New Delhi, Feb 21: All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria in an NDTV interview suggested that the new strains of the coronavirus that have emerged in India are likely more infectious and dangerous than the original strain. Dr Guleria also added that herd immunity in India was a "myth."
Following the spike in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab, questions about the possibility of a new strain of the virus emerging began to gain more traction.
The case spike in Maharashtra, which has triggered a lockdown in three districts and has seen a statewide tightening of restrictions is likely due to a number of new strains, a member of Maharashtra's Covid task force told NDTV. The task force member — Dr Shashank Joshi — also informed the news outlet that 240 new strains of the coronavirus had emerged across India.
Dr Guleria urged caution while dealing with the new strains, irrespective of whether they were seen to be more deadly or not. He added that the reason for their higher infection rate was down to their ability to evade antibodies, known as the "immune escape mechanism."
This means that even after receiving the vaccine, one could still get infected by the coronavirus variants. The AIIMS chief reassured that the vaccines would work against the new strains, albeit with a lower efficacy. However, he continued to urge caution and suggested that newer strains of the virus might emerge as more individuals begin to receive the vaccine.