SRINAGAR: The Covid-19 vaccination which is said to be the only way to prevent a deadly third wave of the pandemic may not offer immunity in case the virus starts to have antigenic shifts. These shifts occur when two or more different strains of a virus or strains of two or more different viruses combine to form a new subtype.
Dr Rouf Hussain Rather, Community Medicine Specialist and in charge of data analysis at the Divisional Covid Control Room Kashmir, told Kashmir Reader that the antigenic shift is the only scenario when the vaccine won’t work. However, if there are only slight antigenic changes, the vaccine will offer immunity, he said.
Antigenic changes happen when the shape and size of the virus changes, Dr Rather explained. “These types of changes have not taken place so far. Though there are less chances of that happening as of now, its possibility can’t be ruled out. This is the only scenario which can make the pandemic difficult,” he said. “Otherwise, if a considerable number of people are vaccinated, and appropriate behaviour is followed, the third wave won’t be deadly. Though there will be cases, there won’t be high mortalities.”
Dr Rather had earlier predicted about the decline of the second wave in the last week of May. His prediction, reported by this newspaper, has come true.
As of now, the vaccine has offered good response to the virus as the deaths are still mostly of those who were unvaccinated. To the existing strains so far, the vaccine has performed well.
At present the government offers two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin. A surge in demand for the vaccines happened in the middle of the second wave after less mortality was seen among the vaccinated. Today, however, there is an acute shortage of vaccines even as more people are willing to get themselves vaccinated.