• Masks Will Help You, Not Night Curfews: WHO Chief Scientist on Vaccine Boosters

    National

    Digital Desk: At a time when the world is grappling with the new Omicron variant, targeting many countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, making observations, has urged countries to follow science-base policies for curbing the spread of the virus.

    Also highlighting how the economy can be balanced, while following the science-based policies, the chief scientist however has emphasized that night curfews are in no way science based and have no evidence of effectiveness.

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    Speaking on the countries strategizing their preparedness for the Omicron variant outbreak, the WHO scientist said, “We need to be more cautious. We need to be prepared, but not panic. What we can expect to see in India is a surge of Omicron cases, I think it is just beginning now in some of the cities and is going to infect a lot of people.”

    “Countries should pay attention on their data. Who was administered what vaccine, and for how long did the vaccine persisted, which population was targeted for the vaccination drive, all these things need to be taken into consideration as this how we learn about immunity. What we know now is the neutralizing antibody responses do wane over a period of time, at about six months,” she said.

    “We need clinical studies and not just lab-based studies. So, what the WHO is really saying now is that our goals remain the same. We have to save the most vulnerable. Give them boosters. But at the same time, we do not have enough evidence that the entire population needs boosters,” added WHO scientist.

    Speaking on India’s “precautionary doses” and “combining vaccines for boosters”, she said that the government has to follow a trajectory based wholly on scientific policies and data thus obtained.

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    “So far that we have on this mix and match or combination have not included Corbevax in the booster tally. Though there is data on the Covavax that has been tried as a booster. Whether you take another shot of the same vaccine as booster or administer a different one, you get a good boost. What WHO said is that what vaccine you pick as the booster dose really depends on different things such as what you have used in that country, what supplies are available, what is acceptable to the public, what are the costs etc. Whatever it is, boosters provide good strength to the immune response as the memory cells get activated,” said the WHO Chief scientist.

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