Mistrust and hesitancy in covid-19 vaccines has arisen ever since its roll-out on January 16. India started Phase-I of what may be the world’s largest vaccination drive hitherto.
So far, more than 1.07 crore vaccine doses have been administered to healthcare professionals and frontline medical workers across India. However, earlier this month, a doctors’ body came with figures that more than 80 percent of the healthcare workers in Kashmir Valley have turned down the vaccine.
It said out of 7,000 healthcare workers at Government Medical College Srinagar and its associated hospitals, only 1,167 (16.67 percent) have received the vaccine as on February 10. 5, 833 workers (83.33 percent) opted out. The doctors’ body time and again reiterated that the vaccine was safe and people should not hesitate in taking it.
A study published in Lancet says that Covid-19 vaccine provides the sterilizing immunity that prevents the inoculated person from being able to infect others. The study showed that a single dose of the vaccine significantly reduced the transmission of the virus with 67 percent reduction in positive swabs among those vaccinated.
This new finding is considered significant because it will enable lifting of the social distancing measures and lockdowns more rapidly than would otherwise be the case.
While trust in vaccine is important, scientists and health experts have been continuously warning that there is no room for complacency to reduce the guard against the virus as unpredictable as covid-19. They have underscored the real possibility of resurgence and of new strains of the virus emerging in other countries reaching India.
Currently, three Covid-19 variants – South African variant, Brazilian variant and UK variant are circulating in the human populations which appear to spread more swiftly than the original strain.
The steady dip in number of fresh cases in India while the pestilence was rising and raging in several other countries also encouraged the notion that the country was somehow immune to the trends witnessed elsewhere. Surging cases in Maharashtra and four other states in the last few days are an indication of the forethought of scientists and health experts, and on top of it the perils of complacency. These five states should serve as a warning for others. The contemporary pandemic must not be considered over till it actually is. There continues to be need for strict adherence to the scientifically guided covid-19 precautions as well as building more trust in the vaccine.