New Delhi, Dec 24: Experts in India have claimed that India’s present Covid scenario does not warrant restricting international flights or imposing a lockdown, but there is a need for strengthened surveillance and vigilance in view of the rise in cases in some countries.
They added that it is unlikely that there will be another outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisations because Indians have the benefit of “hybrid immunity,” or natural immunity brought on by infection and enhanced by vaccination.
“Overall, the number of Covid cases is unchanged, and things are good for India right now. There is no need to impose a lockdown or prohibit international flights given the current situation,” said Former AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria.
He claimed that past experiences show that banning flights is not effective in halting the transmission of infection. “Moreover, data suggests that the Omicron sub-variant BF. 7, which is driving the surge in China, has already been found in our country,” he added.
When questioned whether a lockdown could be needed in the coming days, Dr Guleria said, “A fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as the Indian population already has hybrid immunity because of a very good vaccination coverage and natural infection.”
There does not appear to be a need for a lockdown, according to Dr. Guleria, given the current circumstances and the population’s high level of hybrid immunity.
Dr Neeraj Gupta, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said India needs to exercise caution given the surge of COVID-19 cases in China and some other countries but a “lockdown-like situation is not envisaged in near future given the current India scenario”.
“Covid-appropriate behaviour needs to be reinforced since complacency has crept in because of very low number of Covid positive cases. We cannot be slack given the global scenario since the pandemic is still not over,” he said.
He added ‘hybrid immunity’ makes a person more secure against future infections with morbidity/mortality benefits. “India has the advantage due to citizens taking voluntary actions like prevention, early diagnosis and good vaccination strategy,” he added.
Additionally, he stated that China is currently more vulnerable than other countries, probably as a result of low natural immunity, a “poor vaccination strategy where young and healthy people were prioritised instead of older and vulnerable population, and lower vaccine efficacy.”
Their population may be less immune and more vulnerable also due to the country’s strict lockdown mechanism, he said.
Amid a spurt in cases in Japan, the United States of America, South Korea, Brazil, France and China, India has stepped up surveillance and genome sequencing of covid positive samples.
Chinese cities are currently hit by the highly transmissible Omicron strain mostly BF.7 which is the main variant spreading in Beijing and is contributing to a wider surge of infections in that country.
BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible.
It has a shorter incubation period and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.
Also, 97 per cent of the India’s eligible population have been administered the first dose while 90 per cent have taken the second as well. But, only 27 per cent of the eligible population has taken the precautionary dose.