Large number of Indians may be protected from Omicron: Virologist
Jameel said that this is reflected in the fourth National Sero survey that showed 67 percent of Indians have Covid antibodies
A large number of Indians are likely to remain protected from Omicron or any other variant of COVID-19 and there is no need to panic, said virologist Dr. Shahid Jameel.
Jameel, who is the former head of the advisory group to the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INASACOG), said people must be cautious and keep wearing masks.
''While we should be cautious, there is no need to panic. India's second wave due to the Delta variant was huge, infecting more people than we imagined," he told a news agency.
Jameel said that this is reflected in the fourth National Sero survey that showed 67 percent of Indians to have Covid antibodies.
"That is about 930-940 million people at a time when the vaccination levels were very low, and so it came mainly from infection,'' he said.
''More recently, Delhi showed 97 percent with antibodies, Mumbai around 85-90 percent, and so on. All this means that a very large fraction of Indians will be protected from severe disease caused by Omicron or any other variant,'' Jameel said.
Speaking on the effectiveness of vaccines against the new variant, Jameel said more data is awaited but vaccine effectiveness against the variant may dip by a few pointsA new variant of COVID-19 feared to have a high amount of spike mutations, has been detected in South Africa.
On November 26, the WHO had designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and named it Omicron.
Speaking on the effectiveness of vaccines against the new variant, Jameel said more data is awaited but vaccine effectiveness against the variant may dip by a few points.
However, vaccines will not become useless, he said.
''We don't have this data available yet. It may take another one to two weeks for the first laboratory results to become available. My hunch is that vaccine effectiveness against this variant may dip a few points, but vaccines will not become useless. They will continue to protect from severe disease,'' he said.
On how India can prepare to tackle the new variant, he said people should not panic, and continue to wear masks while the government should increase the rate of vaccination.
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