Harvard Professor Ashish Jha on Wednesday said that three vaccines are showing promising results in the fight against coronavirus and expressed confidence that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine by next year.
"Three vaccines are showing promising results. These are from America, China and Oxford. For now, they all seem promising -- may be one of them or all turn out to be effective. I am confident that the vaccine will be available by next year. India has to prepare a plan on how to avail vaccines for its population," said Jha in interaction via video conference with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Jha is Director, Harvard Global Health Institute and a public health professional.
When Gandhi asked if BCG vaccine is helpful and the virus does not operate in hot temperate, the Professor said: "BCG vaccine can be helpful. There is some circumstantial evidence that these vaccines can be helpful but it is not very good evidence. New testing is underway and we will know in the next few months if these vaccines play a major role." "There is some evidence that the weather makes a difference. There is a less transmission of the disease while being outside than inside," he said.
Jha stressed that testing on a large scale is a must to contain COVID-19 spread. However, Rahul told him that he spoke to some bureaucrats who informed him that more testing means frightening people.
Gandhi said: "I have asked some bureaucrats, why lower testing numbers? Their point is that if you push testing numbers high you frighten people more. You build a much more frightening narrative. This is unofficially what that they say." During the conversation, Gandhi said that he thinks that the states which follow decentralisation will do much better in comparison to large urban centres in the battle against coronavirus.
"Every state has its own response to the disease. I get a sense that decentralised states will do better. The large urban centres will get hurt badly. This disease will bring people together. It will make them realise that they cannot fight this disease with religion and caste differences," he said.
Gandhi's had also interacted with former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee a few days ago.