Prevention and Vaccinations are the best tools against Covid-19


Hyderabad: Covid appropriate behaviour and vaccination together can be powerful tools to protect people against the disease.

In an interesting webinar “Campaign for Covid-19 Appropriate Behaviour and Vaccination”  conducted by the city-based CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), panelists encouraged people to get vaccinated, and take precautions to protect against the disease.

Dr S Chandrasekhar, Director CSIR- IICT, in his welcome address said that people should not hesitate to take vaccine as vaccination is one proven way to control the disease. He said the firms manufacturing vaccines worked under very difficult conditions to deliver and protect people against Covid-19.

When vaccination was open to frontline workers there was a hesitancy to take them mainly due to misinformation, and many decided to adopt a wait and watch policy, said another Hyderabad-based ICMR’s lab, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Director, Dr R Hemalatha. She said side-effects of a vaccine are  minor, but the complications that arise from Covid infections such as pneumonia and other issues are prevented by the vaccines.

“Vaccines train the immune system to fight the virus, and this takes some time to develop,” she said and added; “The second dose further stimulates the immune system to produce more neutralizing Antibodies and Tcell memory formation that last longer.” She further observed that 0.03 to 0.04% people may get infected with Covid even after vaccination but they experience nil or mild symptoms not leading to complications- that means the vaccines are very efficacious.

She also mentioned that women have better  resistance , but the same has not been proved against Covid. She urged women to go ahead and get themselves vaccinated even while in their periods, and not to believe misinformation on the issue. She,  also mentioned that there is no data to suggest that the vaccine was safe for pregnant women and lactating mothers. She advised people to adopt a healthy diet to build good immunity.

The use of RT-PCR test kits are best and standard method for COVID testing, when the sample is collected as nasopharyngeal swab, Dr N Madhusudhana Rao, CEO of Atal Incubation Center-CCMB, said.

The accuracy if the test results depends on the expertise of frontline workers handling the swabs, and technicians at the diagnostic centers. The current high load of tests can cause stress on the test centers, which can sometimes give inaccurate results. The Dry Swab technology developed by the CSIR-Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) is safe and cost effective when combined with the RT-PCR tests, Dr Rao added.

Commenting on the Covid mutants, he said CCMB has processed 2500 sequences, and discovered seven variants are distributed all over the country. However, in Maharashtra the double mutantvariant is widely prevalent.

He urged people not to be alarmed over the reports on virus mutants, as the present vaccines are the best weapons against them. He said while variants of concern (VOC) have published data that can help in determining avenues to limit them, the variants of importance (VOI) do not have sufficient data on their behaviour.

“Consulting a doctor is the best option rather than relying on social media reports”, said Dr Sistla Ramakrishna, Senior Principal Scientist of CSIR-IICT. He further elaborated that the battle against Covid-19 has two components: Prevention and Treatment. “Prevention is the right tool to arrest the disease. Prevention in terms of vaccination and following Covid protocols are necessary for all. Self-discipline is required to follow social distancing in the market and other places,” he pointed out.

He emphasised the need for Stores have demarcations to enforce social distancing. Such rules can be strictly followed only if a person has self-discipline. In workplaces, meetings can be convened virtually, discouraging physical gathering at a particular place.

Dr Ramakrishna also stressed the need to wear masks properly. He said people often pull it down on their chins or below the nose. As the virus is airborne, it is advised to have masks all times that covers the nose and mouth. He insisted that people wear masks even at homes, maintain physical distance between their family members, and have meals in a segregated manner.

He asked people to dispose of used masks properly, as this is an important part of prevention. He appealed to people to avoid unnecessary travel. He said people did not give importance to masks in the November-December last year, just when the first wave of the Covid-19 was decreasing. “Had people complied to wearing masks and adhering to social distancing, then the second wave, which is a tsunami, could have been limited to a great extent,” he said. He urged people to go ahead with their vaccinations, wear masks and protect themselves from the disease.

Dr M Chandrasekharam, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR-IICT, moderated the webinar with relevant and specific questions, which were aimed at clearing common concerns and removing fear among people.