India has a plan to vaccinate its entire adult population by December 2021

While India is still to overcome deep scars left by the deadly second wave of coronavirus, a US-based medical expert has ruled out the country being hit by the third wave as he believes it is on the right path of developing herd immunity.

“Interestingly, for India, we have achieved the threshold of immunity that the pandemic will start going away by July 1 anyway. I am predicting that our masks will come down by October 2nd and the third wave will not come.” Dr Ravindra Godse, a Pittsburgh-based physician said in an exclusive interview with India News Network.

However, he puts a rider to the prediction on the third wave. “If you want to do it really properly then you have to vaccinate as many people as possible. Vaccination is the only way,” Godse, who is also a filmmaker, said, adding people should not hesitate in taking the shots.

India has set an ambitious target of producing more than 2 billion vaccine doses in the country and vaccinating the entire adult population by December of this year. This, if achieved, can prove to be a game changer and we might at least immunize the entire population against the virus by the end of this year.

Explaining the importance of taking vaccination, Godse said, “Third wave can be prevented by herd immunity and immunity can be developed either by disease or by vaccination. I think we should reach there by vaccination. As per the guidance of WHO, even if you have had Covid you should still opt for vaccination as the vaccine will give you a coordinated immunity.”

‘Time to do away with vaccine hesitancy’

While it has been stated multiple times by experts that there is no reason to worry about vaccines, people are still apprehensive about going for vaccination. This was triggered even more when people started sharing their vaccination experiences on social media. While some of the stories must have been true, many of them were later proved to be fake news.

Earlier, it was believed that vaccine hesitancy will be long gone when India will embark on the world’s largest vaccination drive. However, it still exists and every now and then medical experts have to convince people that vaccines are safe.

In a discussion with India News Network last year, former Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research VM Katoch had also said that both Bharat Biotech-ICMR developed Covaxin and AstraZeneca-Oxford’s Covishield are safe and there is no need to worry.

Speaking about the vaccines so far available in India, Godse said, “Covaxin so far appears safe. It is a whole virus vaccine. So, it will likely work against the mutation. The efficacy is ok and it is possible that it will be approved for the world.”

“Covishield’s efficacy is also good and closer to Pfizer. Its efficacy is even better if it is taken 12 weeks apart so people should not believe any Whatsapp forwards and go for it. So, these Covishield and Covaxin appear to be ok. Sputnik V is also a spectacular vaccine,” he added.

With the first case of Covid-19 in China in 2019, the world was startled and since then there have been multiple mutants of the virus. Each mutant is believed to be stronger than the previous one. People are scared if the vaccines would be effective against the mutants or not.

On this, Godse said, “Covid virus is a novel virus but coronavirus is not novel. We have known about it since the late 1950s. We have around seven coronaviruses. Many Indians have a common cold in their lifetime. They have some antibodies against this novel virus. So, we might have apparently done better. When we look at the picture of the world, it is hard to categorize the better. But, everything is in the relative term. No one should use this word, “Indian mutation” is figurative to India. It should be called by its scientific name.”

“There is a concept called ‘One bug, One drug’ so we are thinking about making a vaccine that will work against all coronaviruses in the future,” he added. Right now, we just have to emerge from this and save our people and then save our economy, he said.