India’s COVID-19 outbreak is skyrocketing these days. When the pandemic sprouted, India was one of the few countries that went against all odds by having a much more controlled epidemic than what had been predicted.
But now, it is seeing a deadly third wave that’s bringing this tropical nation’s healthcare sector to its knees. Natvisa.com is reporting that all category eVisas (business, conference, and medical have been reinstated) except the tourist eVisa.
Read on to find out what’s behind this, how much of an effect the new mutated strain has caused, and if you should get a vaccine.
Surge In Cases
The current daily frequency of new COVID cases in India is over 400,000 as per JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data. What worse, the total COVID-related deaths in India are over a dreadful 250,000!
Even though India isn’t the only country witnessing abounding cases, it surely has been hit the hardest. Several countries in Europe are now seeing surges in numbers as well. These are largely linked to the abatement of restrictions and grown social mobility.
The remarkable increment in the number of COVID cases in India is startling, given that by some estimations, as high as about 27% of the Indian population were believed to have antibodies to combat COVID-19, with this numeral rising to about 50% in large cities.
To counter the massive third wave surge, India commenced its vaccination initiative on the 16th of January and by the beginning of April had declared that it had successfully administered more than 100 million vaccines! That too, in a record 85 days, contrasted to the USA’s 89.
However, this figure is more like a drop in the ocean for a nation of over 1.4 billion people!
Current Entry Policy
India has implemented strict entry guidelines for visitors.
As of now, most flights to India are discontinued from March 22, 2023, to date. They’ll remain suspended until further notice.
However, this does not pertain to flights that carry assets and goods for commerce, or essential supplies along with their aircrew staff, cleaners, helpers, etc.
These entry restrictions don’t appear to be easing out anytime soon as on May 1, 2023, the Indian government prolonged the countrywide lockdown further by two weeks., which in turn, could be extended more.
Internal to the nation, the Government of India has classified all the districts into three distinct zones — green, orange, and red — depending on the extent of the virus spread, with lockdown relaxations implemented respectively. Yet, from an external point of view, India is one big red zone and most countries, as of now, have prohibited flights to or from India.
New Mutations, New Problems
So, what has happened? What has caused this severe spike in COVID cases that made India a breeding ground for the virus?
It seems like numerous factors have come together in an out-and-out storm to put together one of the worst COVID-19 bursts the planet has seen so far.
At the center of it all, is a new, greatly concerning ‘dual mutant’ B1617 variant. It was identified in India last year and has been rapidly spreading across the nation.
Despite scientists still inspecting whether or not the mutation is more threatening, it is safe to say that it is more transmissible as it has the L452R variation that alters the virus’ spike proteid composition.
This proteid composition is key to the manner in which the virus latches onto our cells. With a more clingy proteid composition, the mutated coronavirus strain can get hooked on to our biological cells more firmly, and thus, making it more infectious.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Now, let’s have a look at how vaccines, in general, work.
Vaccines preeminent functioning is to help the immune system recognize a specific virus or bacteria by exposing it to an inoffensive variant of the pathogen, or part of it — much the same as presenting a bloodhound a shred of cloth to sniff — so that it can identify it and prepare in advance to mount a defense if the vaccinated individual ever gets infected with the real pathogen.
The vaccines usually do that by spurring the generation of antibodies. They may also help stimulate other components of our immune system, such as the T cells.
This is the basic cornerstone for how all, including the coronavirus vaccines, work
Should You Get Vaccinated?
Vaccines shield the body from threatening diseases and some may also help restrain the spread of disease, saving about 3 – 4 million lives every year, especially in a country as populated as India.
Many people across the globe already receive vaccines for infections such as meningitis, measles, and pneumonia, as standard childhood immunizations. This has helped keep these diseases at bay in most countries.
In short, you should absolutely get vaccinated without falling prey to inaccurate news or statistics.
Will any other vaccines help protect from COVID-19?
As indicated by current scientific studies, there is no proof that any other vaccines, aside from those explicitly created for the SARS COVID-19 virus, will protect against this infection.
However, it must be noted that the researchers are examining whether any existing vaccines — such as the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccine that is administered to suppress tuberculosis — are also useful for COVID-19, given that both these infections primarily affect the lungs.
The World Health Organisation, nevertheless, is yet to assess the data and evidence regarding the efficacies of other vaccines in preventing the COVID spread.
Can COVID vaccines Offer Long Term Protection?
The data is currently insufficient to answer this question.
Since it has only been a few months since the COVID vaccines have been developed, it is too soon to discern the time span of protection the COVID-19 vaccines can provide.
As of now, research is open-ended to respond to this question with a satisfying answer. However, it’s reassuring and heartening that the available reports infer that most individuals who recover from the coronavirus infection exhibit a better immune response that contributes to at least some duration of added protection against reinfection.
Although, as per WHO, researchers are still studying how potent this protection is, and how long does it last.