I am fully vaccinated! What about you?

I am fully vaccinated- what next?

These were the two questions on my mind!

53 % of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

8 billion Doses have been administered globally, and 27 million doses are now being administered each day.

In India

Fully vaccinated: 30%

Received at least one dose: 70 %

Doses administered: 1.16 Billion/ 101 Crores

Less than 12 months after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several research teams rose to the challenge and developed vaccines that protect us from COVID-19. India began administration of COVID-19 vaccines on 16 January 2021. As of 20 November 2021, India has administered over 1.16 billion doses overall.

People around the world have spent the past year trying to dodge a deadly virus. An unknown virus brought the whole world to its knees. True, Corona virus was on rampage.

Entire societies in which too many people will admit no responsibility and feel no remorse for the harm they cause to others. The COVID protocol of masks, physical distancing and group gatherings were a matter of personal choice with no commitment to public good!

Patriotism has always been associated with honesty and hard work at the cost of personal safety. It was seen associated with armed forces and Police who sacrifice their lives for us! Now it is also associated with doctors, nurses and Paramedics — many of whom were suddenly saddled with unfathomable tasks, compounded by an increased risk of contamination and death they never signed up for.

Hello Friends

I am Dr Prabhudev.

Former Director Jayadeva institute of cardiology-

Former VC Bangalore University

Former chairman Karnataka state health commission-

Now let us look at the possibility of an imminent Third Wave of Corona! Is it Coming or Not?

My short answer is probably not!

In America, UK, France, Germany and Russia 3rd and even 4th waves have been reported!

There have been A Series of Wrong Predictions Made by Eminent Govt Experts. ICMR said said it will be in August and later said it will be in October! Nothing happened. None of the predictions came true. In fact it triggered an unnecessary panic among people.

Even the scientists in IIT Hyderabad and Kanpur had predicted 3rd wave in October from their mathematical modelling!

A section of experts said that the third wave will affect children and younger people more. No, I did not happen till now!

One report, which was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office had claimed India can witness six lakh cases per day in the third wave! Thank god it did not happen!

The third wave of Covid-19 is not coming, it is here”, said the worshipful mayor of Mumbai. Later, she backtracked from her statement and said it is on “our doorsteps”.

Meanwhile, daily confirmed COVID cases in India have been steadily decreasing over the past months from about 40,000 per day to about 10,000 per day now. India’s recovery rate stands at 98.26 per cent.

Coronavirus vaccines are a ‘miracle of science’:

With all of this and the clock ticking on a global pandemic killing people by the second, it turns out we can do amazing things. The vaccine trials have been nothing short of a miracle.

Vaccines save lives. Fear endangers lives. Vaccine hesitancy is dangerous. There is no vaccine against stupidity.

How do the vaccines protect?

Traditional vaccines introduce fragments of virus protein into the body for it to learn to recognize and attack.

The corona vaccines, however, use something called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to give the body a blueprint to manufacture its own virus fragments to attack.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Sequencing all the genes in a person or virus is so routine nobody bats an eyelid. Safety has not been compromised. All trials have been through the correct “phases” or process of any normal drug or vaccine.

To date, there has not been deaths associated with COVID vaccines and only a handful of potentially serious events. The few deaths have been to the comorbid conditions like heart ailments, strokes and cancers.

The COVID Vaccines Are a Triumph of collaboration of Global pharma companies. Vaccines from Moderna of Massachusetts and BioNTech of Germany have led the way- and were able to design and deliver highly effective vaccines so quickly — in months. This is not to downplay the challenges still ahead. Vaccines will only be used if their benefits clearly outweigh the risks.

Now There are so many doubts and questions in everybody’s mind! I am making an effort to answer some of them. If your doubts are cleared, if your questions are answered and let go vaccine hesitancy among those who have not yet received the vaccine, I feel it is worth the effort.

After an arduous year of disease, death and lock downs and sheltering in place, the public heaved a sigh of relief and celebrated. vaccination is the only way to end a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. When the announcement of the availability of vaccine for the COVID we saw a range of emotions- relief, delight and even elation. But for some, there were other emotions in play: concern, fear, even anger.

Many have adopted a ‘wait and watch’ strategy. They are concerned about the side-effects and adverse events following immunization. Remember that COVID infections have fallen sharply since last year due to the massive vaccination program was launched in March 2020.

Vaccines are a Triumph of hope and life over fear. Its triumph of science over pathology!

Let us understand about vaccines

First are vaccines safe?

Short Answer is- yes they are Safe!

Q. After I get a COVID-19 vaccine, is it safe to visit in person with friends and family?

You can safely visit in person with friends and family. If you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases it is recommended to wear a mask indoors and in public.

q. Do we need a booster shot?

Let us briefly understand — How booster vaccines work

When the immune system first encounters a vaccine, it activates two important types of white blood cell. First are the plasma B cells, which primarily focus on making antibodies. But this cell type is short-lived. Your body might be swimming in antibodies within just a few weeks. This is often followed by a rapid decline due to the short life span of these cells.

Then there are the memory T cells, each of which is specifically tailored to identify a particular pathogen and kill it. These memory T cells linger in the body for decades until they stumble upon their target antigen. The Immunity–can sometimes last a lifetime.

The booster dose is a way of re-exposing the body to the antigens — the molecules of the pathogens that trigger the immune system.

Booster shot has been the hot topic recently. But frankly First and foremost priority is — two doses for all- full universal immunisation. Next comes the booster! The need for annual boosters isn’t clear. Some biology and policy questions remain to be answered.

On the biology side, how much antigenic evolution will we see with corona virus and to what extent will it evolve to evade our immune system need answers.

Q. If we need when do we need it?

Many countries have stated the booster dose

The WHO has endorsed that the ideal time for the booster is six months after the second injection of the vaccine!

Q. Is COVISHIELD vaccine the same as the vaccine that has been given in UK by AstraZeneca?

Yes, Covi-shield vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, is based on the same patent technology as the UK’s Astrazeneca vaccine.

Q. After both doses of vaccination — how long does it take for the immune response?

The Corona vaccines we have are two-dose vaccine. After the first dose, we see a good immune response within about two weeks. And it’s really the second dose that then boosts that immune response and we see immunity get even stronger after that second dose. We don’t know yet how long immunity lasts from the vaccines.

Q. After both doses of vaccine can we still get corona disease?

Short answer is yes!

Even Fully vaccinated people should get tested three to five days after coming into close contact with a COVID-infected person, even if they don’t have symptoms.

If you or somebody in your household tests positive, that should trigger an exposure investigation.

The vaccine definitely provides you protection against the covid19. We have seen a number of cases where people even after both doses have suffered COVID. It may be due to the mutated strains of corona virus. After both doses there is 93% chance of not landing in the hospital with COVID even when the delta variant is predominant. But when reinfection occurs the infection is often mild and rarely of moderate severity. It is rarely fatal. It may not even require assisted ventilation!

Q. After both doses of vaccine can one still transmit infection to others?

Again short answer is yes! You can transmit the Corona infection to others.

Q. Important question- After both doses of vaccine why does one need to continue with COVID protocols?

The answer is — this is a novel corona virus. We are still learning about the virus as well as response to vaccines. In India the COVID is on the down side. We hope that there may not be a third wave.

There’s still broad transmission in many countries. We have seen 3rd and even 4th waves of COVID in Europe, USA, china and Moscow.

Active infections anywhere is a threat to everywhere in this globalised world. The vaccines are doing their job at preventing disease. I am proud that India has saved the world from the disastrous consequences of corona disease by proving the vaccines not only for domestic use but also for global use.

But you must not forget that some age groups like children are yet to be vaccinated all over the world. Those who have not received vaccines are vulnerable for COVID.

Q. Why there is vaccine hesitancy?

Short answer is Ignorance.

Second reason — Obduracy that Corona did not infect. So why vaccine — Attitude. Count your blessings that you were not infected in the two waves. Be sure the blessing is not life time. You are a sitting duck for the corona virus.

In the beginning of the program there was vaccine hesitancy even amongst doctors, nurses and front line warriors.

Initially there were Safety and efficacy concerns. Concerns about the speed of COVID-19 vaccine development and doubts about transparent clinical trials. It was difficult for many to believe that a vaccine could be developed within a year of the start of Pandemic. Many think one needs at least five years to develop a vaccine. We need to educate the public about the mRNA vaccine technology which is going to change the vaccines production for good.

Vaccine hesitancy has become a leading global health threat. They are quiet large in numbers. In India the vaccination is voluntary. These are the reasons why we have to continue the precautions, especially the masking, the physical distancing, the hand washing and not gathering in big groups.

How long to continue these COVID protocols?

First goal is universal vaccination!

We have to look scientifically at Booster dose! We may need annual corona vaccine shots.

The Corona virus has become endemic. Probably we have to learn to live with the virus. There will be clusters of infections in different regions. It may not be that virulent. It can make you sick and but not kill you!

How soon can I travel after having both Covid vaccines?

Fully vaccinated people can travel domestically without the need for COVID-19 tests or quarantining. All countries do not have equal access to vaccines, making international travel risky for those traveling and for unvaccinated communities. Domestic travel is safer than international travel at this point. Different countries have different policies about air travel.

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Q. What is the Way forward?

Learn to live with the virus. “Learning to live with it” does not mean complacency.

Pandemic exit strategies are often ill-considered and unstructured.

Accept that vaccination is critical

Accept- the corona has become Endemic

Accept that boosters will be a routine vaccine program.

We have created “a perfect storm” for diseases from wildlife to spill over into humans and spread quickly around the world.

I hope I have answered your questions and cleared your doubts!

Former director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, Former VC of Bangalore University and former chairman of the Karnataka State Health Commission