Q. How dangerous can the delta plus variant turn out to be?
The second wave is not over yet. We still have more than 1,000 Covid positive patients in Mumbai and over 10,000 in Maharashtra. In addition to that, now we are getting cases of delta variant. What has happened is that we are witnessing different mutations of the Wuhan virus. The first was alpha which was detected in U.K, beta in South Africa, Gama in Brazil and this is the delta variant which was detected in Nepal, U.K and Maharashtra. These mutations change the nature of the virus, its effects and immune escapsim which makes it dangerous.
Q. Is the delta plus variant more transmissable?
Yes, it is more infectious, but we can't yet say that it is more hazardous. Moreover, there is a possibility that it may have an immune escape. Immune escape means that the vaccinations which we are getting might not be completely effective against it. Which means that people can get infected after taking two doses. We have to keep in mind that festivals, gatherings and election rallies can really spread the virus. You look at the second wave, till February the cases were under control but suddenly in March the cases shot up. We need to keep in mind that prevention is still the best possible cure and prevention is possible only by following Covid appropriate behavior.
Q. A woman in Rajasthan tested positive for the delta plus variant of Covid-19 despite taking both vaccine doses, so can we say that vaccines are ineffective against this variant?
Vaccines might not be 100% effective in saving people from catching corona. However, those who have taken the vaccines, their condition has remained stable even after contracting the virus. Mortality rate is low and very few people are being admitted to the ICUs. Simple example of this can be that last year, many health workers were diagnosed Covid positive. However, this year after vaccination, very few health worker have tested positive.
Q. What can be done in order to reduce vaccine hesitancy?
I think local leaders have a major role to play in that. They should be picked and vaccinated and asked to convince more people to take the jabs. Vaccine hestancy has always been an issue in India. This time around the situation is dire, so we need to take more steps to vaccinate more people. We need to pick the local role models of the people living in rural areas in order to convince more people.
Q. What precautions can people take to safeguard themselves from the delta plus variant?
We need to start using double masks. Cloth masks provide only 58% security, a properly tied mask is better and wearing two masks provide almost 99% security. In addition to that, you need to make sanitization an hourly habit. Avoid going to public places and as much as you can. I understand people are longing for social interactions, they want to go out, but we need to understand that only these precautions can save our lives.