After breaking global records in the month of April, India recorded its first dip in new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. Talking about the severity of the second wave of the pandemic, Department of Science & Technology secretary Ashutosh Sharma in an exclusive interview to The Economic Times suggested that no input was alarming as far as science is concerned.
Dismissing election rallies and the Kumbh as the reason for a sudden surge in new Covid-19 cases, Sharma said “Election rallies and others may have contributed a small fraction but please look at the totality and context of the overall behaviour seen in the country, even among enlightened sections of people. It had become pervasive.”
Sharma added that the Covid-19 supermodel committee had raised an informal alert in March as the modelling and various other studies could not predict the scale, intensity and ferocity of the second wave and the new mutant of the Covid-19 virus. The numbers expected were to be less than a lakh per day during the second wave.
In a committee meeting with the Niti Aayog and Dr VK Paul in early April, the prediction was of India hitting the peak in the third-fourth week of April with an intensity of less than a lakh per day, Sharma informed.
Talking about the studies and predictions, Sharma added “Clearly what was predicted was far short of the reality, probably because inputs to the model changed — mutations in the virus which probably required less loading for the disease to take hold.”
On the science behind the virus
When asked if the messaging pertaining to the pandemic could have been better, Sharma insisted that there was no faulty messaging.
Explaining the science behind it, he added “Mathematical models also clearly and emphatically said that the behaviour of the virus was linked to that of the people. While scientific studies are still on, the strains look more infective. It is argued that the transmission is happening through aerosol. It is still under study how much viral load is leading to the onset of disease.
Comparatively, a small fraction is showing severe symptoms but it is not clear how that selection happens. Comorbidity and obesity are indicators. So was age but now it is shifting to a younger population that was not infected before — like fire to fuel. Several ongoing global studies and at our labs will give greater insight over time.”
Citing this as a difficult time, Sharma advised to stay away from the blame game.
On action points and imports
Informing about increasing medical oxygen capacity, Sharma revealed that the work is in progress to repurpose oxygen plants, identify additional startups and industries for oxygen production and build new designs to bridge the supply and demand gap. “However, the real bottleneck just now is supply and logistics. That is being addressed by expert groups,” he informed.
Favoring the imports, Sharma clarified that they had no inkling that the scale would be so huge and the intensity so high. Hence considering the unprecedented scale and the timely need for supplies, imports at a time of crisis is what all countries do, he informed.
Advising people to stay masked, Sharma concluded saying that there is a need to be constantly prepared and enhance expertise and infrastructure in research, in modelling and crisis response.
For Those Recovering from the Virus, Here is How Long to Wait Before Taking the Covid-19 Vaccine
With India’s vaccination drive slowly gathering pace and the number of infections refusing to die down, there are many who are testing positive for the virus after being partially inoculated. There are others who are recovering and need to be vaccinated.
The concern now is on the number of days that recovering individuals need to wait before going for the jab.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a wait for 90 days from the day one tests positive for Covid-19 if he/she has not received the vaccine.
A report by The Indian Express quoted immunologist Dr Vineeta Bal from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), infection-triggered immunity is likely to last for a few months, and it would be advisable to wait for 6-8 weeks after recovery.
Vaccine scientist Dr Gagandeep Kang told Indian Express that data from the UK shows there is 80% protection following a natural infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is fine to even wait up to six months, she said.
This is in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) which reviewed data and said it was all right to delay vaccination for six months after a natural infection, as natural antibodies are likely to persist in the body until then.
For those infected after the first dose, the second dose can be given eight weeks after the person tests positive.
The body starts producing antibodies after the infection and it is akin to getting a vaccine. However it is advisable to wait for at least eight weeks before taking the second dose, experts recommend.
Scientists are still learning about natural and vaccine-induced immunity. According to the CDC, it typically takes two weeks for the body to build protection after vaccination, and hence it is possible to get infected.
Karnataka Temporarily Suspends Vaccination For 18-44 Age Group, Will Prioritise Second Dose
Owing to the short supply of Covid vaccines, Karnataka on Wednesday decided to ‘temporarily suspend’ vaccination drive for those aged between 18 to 44 years.
In a series of tweets, the Karnataka Health department said that the state government has decided that the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 and 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for the second dose.
“Therefore, all vaccines available with the state government i.e. supplied by union government and procured directly by state will be utilized for vaccination of beneficiaries due for second dose,” the Karnataka health department tweet explained.
The Health department added that vaccination drives for the 18 to 44 age group, including those who have already booked appointments will be temporarily suspended from May 14 till further orders.
According to the health department, the state government on May 7 had decided to utilise the complete supply of vaccines provided by the union government for vaccination of persons above 45 years, for vaccinating beneficiaries who were due for second dose.
“But under the changed circumstances and severe shortage of vaccine, the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 to 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for second dose,” a senior health department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The health department added that this order will be applicable for Covid vaccination at all state-run Covid vaccination centres in the state.
As of now, only two vaccines manufactured by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech are allowed in India for mass inoculation programme, but these companies are struggling to meet the country’s overwhelming demand for vaccines amid the ferocious second wave that has seen India’s Covid burden go up manifold.
Karnataka symbolically launched anti-Covid vaccination drive on May 1 but ever since it has failed to take off due to short supply of vaccines.
Karnataka Health minister, K. Sudhkar was first to state on April 30 that it was better to put off the launch of the drive on May 1 as the state had not received required stock and this was even endorsed by Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa on that day. But, Yediyurappa the next day launched the vaccination drive symbolically on May 1.
Check Out Tithi, Shubh Muhurat, Rahu Kaal and Other Details For Thursday
May 13 will mark the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya Tithi of Hindi month Vaishakha in Vikram Samvat 2078 and the day is Guruvara (Thursday). The Dwitiya tithi will prevail up to the full night on May 13. The day Guruvara is dedicated to Lord Brihaspati who is known as the priest of gods. Devotees observe fast and worship Lord Brihaspati by offering yellow flowers, sandals, clothes, jaggery and gram pulse. He is also believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Know about the tithi, timings, Nakshatra, and other details for May 13.
Sunrise and Sunset time for May 13:
Sunrise time – 05:32 am
Sunset time – 07.04 pm
Moonrise time – 06.26 am
Moonset time – 08.33 pm
Tithi, Nakshatra, and Rashi Details for May 13:
Dwitiya Tithi will prevail up to a full night on May 13. The Nakshatra will be Rohini up to the full night. Sun will remain in Mesha Rashi while Moon will transition to Vrishabha Rashi.
Shubh Muhurats on May 13:
The most auspicious muhurat of the day i.e, Abhijit Muhurat will prevail between 11:51 am and12:45 pm on May 13. This time period is believed to be one of the most auspicious muhurat to perform any puja or to start any work. There are some other shubh muhurats which also prevail for a certain period of time almost every day. These are Vijaya muhurat andGodhuli muhurat which will take place between 02:33 pm and03:27 pm, 06:50 pm and 07:14 pm, respectively. There will be no Amrit Kalam for today.
Inauspicious timings for May 13:
The most inauspicious muhurat Rahu Kalam will prevail between 1.59 pm and3.41 pm on May 13. It is said that any auspicious work during this time is interfered with by planet Rahu. Other inauspicious muhurat like Gulikai Kalam and Varjyam will last from 08:55 am to 10:36 am and 08:44 pm to 10:32 pm.
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- For Those Recovering from the Virus, Here is How Long to Wait Before Taking the Covid-19 Vaccine May 13, 2021
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- Karnataka Temporarily Suspends Vaccination For 18-44 Age Group, Will Prioritise Second Dose May 13, 2021
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