New Delhi: AIIMS director Randeep Guleria on Wednesday (June 16, 2021) said that the delta plus variant of coronavirus may affect the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the country but they will still be effective against the variant.
The AIIMS director revealed that the delta plus variant is not yet a concern, adding that “our main aim is to prevent deaths and serious illness".
As per a report in CNN-News18, Randeep Guleria also spoke about the issue of the increased duration gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine. The AIIMS director said that the current data analysed by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) revealed that the delay increases the immunity against COVID-19, adding that “as the data emerges, the authorities may change the protocol but as of now the data is quite solid on the current duration."
“When the data was evaluated, the alpha variant was dominant and it has changed, the delta variant is more dominant now. Both variants are infectious, even the alpha variant was found more infectious than the previous variants. The data need to be looked at critically. Further decisions can be taken once the data is looked at critically and they look at it from the point of view of getting the crude data. It has to be taken after looking at the scientific evidence and can’t be a knee-jerk reaction," Guleria added.
When asked about the current COVID-19 situation in the United Kingdom, which has vaccinated almost 62 percent with the first jab and fully inoculated 44 percent of its population, Guleria said, “We are always saying that vaccination has its limitation in terms of infection. I think we need to again understand what is the protection that the vaccine gives. To a large extent, the vaccine will definitely protect you from severe disease, in terms of hospitalisation or death. But the vaccine may not protect you that much from the infection. You may still get the COVID-19 infection but it may be milder or you may be asymptomatic and you will recover quickly because you have antibodies in your blood. You may be infected and may spread it to others but the virus will not multiply to the extent that it will cause a severe damage to your body.”
The AIIMS director also added that the priority of the Indian government and health experts is to prevent deaths and serious illness. “We will also decrease the number of cases but that may not happen at a larger extent than what we see as far as mortality is concerned,” Guleria said.
While addressing concerns over delta plus variant Guleria said, “Currently, the delta plus is a variant of interest. There is not much data to show that this is becoming dominant or this more infectious or causing more mortalities. Having said that, we need to see how this evolves, whether it remains a variant of interest or it becomes a variant of concern.”
“Currently, the cases are few. It doesn’t seem to be a major cause of concern. As far as delta variant is concerned, it is a variant which is more infectious, it is spreading rapidly. It is now taking over from where there was the alpha variant. Delta variant has become a variant of concern because it is spreading rapidly at a global level," he said while adding that the “vaccines have a multi-level immunity, so they still will be effective but their efficacy may come down to a certain extent.”