Covid-19 may reach its endemic stage like Influenza: Expert
Covid infection will reach its endemic stage like influenza after a while and then vulnerable population may have to take the vaccine shot annually, said Dr Samiran Panda, Head, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, ICMR on Friday.
Panda said influenza commonly known as flu was a pandemic 100 years ago but today it was endemic. "Similarly, in case of COVID-19, we expect that it will gradually become endemic from its current state of being a pandemic," he said.
"Currently, we recommend the elderly to take annual flu shots. As the influenza virus keeps on mutating, we simultaneously make minor changes in the vaccine. So, there is no need to panic," the top government expert said.
He also said that the vaccine was absolutely safe. Panda clarified that people with normal allergies like asthma, dust allergy, allergy of pollen grains can take the vaccine.
"Patients with co-morbidities can take the vaccine if they are stable. It is advisable for people suffering from diabetes and other immuno-suppressed conditions to get vaccinated because they are at a higher risk," he said.
He said all the vaccines that were currently available in India had gone through three phases of clinical trials. "Safety is tested in the first phase itself. Immunity and efficacy are tested in the later phases. So, I assure everyone that the vaccines are absolutely safe." Dr. Panda.
He also said that blood clotting events or AEFI (Adverse Event Following Immunization) following COVID vaccination were miniscule in India.
Panda also suggested that the best option was to take the vaccine available in the country now, rather than waiting for other vaccines that are available globally and may come to India after some time.
"People may be waiting for other vaccines which they may consider more convenient or superior, the virus is not waiting. The virus is still spreading in the country. What if you get infected, while you wait," he asked.
He also informed that there was no change suggested in preventive measures and treatment of Covid in light of the new variants. "All the mutants, whether it is circulating strains of the virus or the newer variants, the mode of spread is the same. Precautions like wearing masks, avoiding crowded places, hand sanitation are still the effective methods to control the spread of the virus," he added.