A leading molecular immunologist based in Germany has said that it is extremely important that “genomic monitoring” or sequencing of variants should be increased 10 to 20 times as existing and new emergencies have the potential to cause severe Covid-19 disease.
The sequencing should be performed in the infected individuals in both the vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups to understand the nature of the variants, says Dr. Satish Ranjan, molecular immunologist, who is also a group leader (junior) at the Institute of Advanced Material, Sweden.
India must be vigilant
Dr Ranjan wrote to BusinessLine that India, in the light of the new circumstances, must be vigilant against any potential increase in infections. All appropriate measures for Covid-19 should be strictly maintained and all social, religious and political gatherings should be strictly regulated. Under no circumstances should large gatherings be allowed.
India has experienced a very high frequency of infections during the second wave, which was revealed by seroprevalence data as high as 90 percent in some places. But this natural immunity is likely to decrease after 6-8 months, as can be seen, especially in Germany. Covid cases in India may start to increase again in the next 1-2 months if people are not careful.
“Iceberg lurks in front”
Distance will be the most important factor in limiting the spread of viruses because the existing variants also have high transmission possibilities, said Dr Ranjan.
The situation is comparable to an “iceberg ahead” lurking in front of it and the government should make every effort to put the ship in safety before it is too late. It should begin to improve the capacity of healthcare facilities at all levels and prepare for war readiness.
Europe, especially Germany, has seen a large number of cases in children caused mostly by the Delta variant. All precautions should be taken in schools and health care arrangements improved to prevent such an event.
In the light of the current global Covid crisis, people should start introducing self-restraints and avoid all events where large gatherings take place.
“In a worst-case scenario, we need to react properly and not repeat the mistake of choosing self-treatment, an incorrect course of treatment or even overtreatment as these can lead to a higher mortality rate,” says Dr Ranjan.
Inhaling steam and consuming naturally occurring health products will help reduce the viral load from the upper respiratory tract and greatly prevent lung infections.
The natural immunity can be impaired
Natural immunity obtained after Covid-19 infection is robust and can provide immunity to the current circulating strains for 8-12 months. But immunity studies from real data and study published in the Science Journal clearly indicate that this immunity begins to decrease after 6-8 months and the risks of new infections increase again.
With the emergence of Omicron, a new variant of concern, it is very important to understand its nature in terms of increased transmission and immune capabilities. If this mutant has immune capabilities, it can escape both natural and vaccine-induced immunity and can lead to a large number of cases.
Vaccine induces immunity
Data from the USA, Germany and other countries indicate that the existing Delta variant has developed and still leads to a large number of cases. Germany is facing the worst phase of the pandemic since the outbreak.
The current vaccination is performed by “first generation” vaccines, ie vaccines developed against the original SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. But the virus has evolved into many new and more aggressive strains such as Delta and Alpha that are still responsible for the current huge number of cases worldwide.
A huge number of breakthrough cases are now reported in the UK and Germany in fully vaccinated individuals, mainly because the immunity induced by vaccination is not absolute and decreases over time.
New generation vaccine needed
Vaccinated individuals are infected with a high amount of virus in the upper respiratory tract, mainly in the nostrils. So these individuals can transmit the virus at very high speed.
The risk of becoming infected and spreading the infection is still high among vaccinated individuals, but the total hospital stay is lower, which indicates how vaccination has reduced the severity of the disease and deaths of infected individuals.
With the emergence of new variants, there is an urgent need to develop a new generation of vaccines that can work against all variants and provide long-term protection.