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Scared by Possibility of Fourth Covid Wave? Fret Not, Situation in India Not as Severe as China

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As Covid-19 cases are spreading rapidly through China again and in some other parts of the world, India is stepping up its virus combating measures especially as the BF.7 variant, behind the new surge, has been detected in the country.

The Union Health Ministry is  likely to reintroduce mandatory ‘air suvidha’ forms with details of RT-PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to travel or complete vaccination proof for passengers coming from China and other countries that are seeing an uptick in cases.

In China, experts predict difficult months ahead for its 1.4 billion population. In response to the new wave, China has a “zero-COVID” approach, which aims to isolate all infected people.

The Asian giant reopened the entire country on December 7 in the wake of anti-lockdown protests,  and this has caught the nation under-vaccinated and short on hospital capacity.

Also Read | Covid-19 May Nix Your Travel Plans as Health Ministry Mulls Mandating ‘Air Suvidha’ Form, Vaccination Again

 As of now China is seeing less testing and more severe cases. Hospital intensive care units are overwhelmed by patients, and ambulances are being turned away, according to Associated Press.

However, India is not going to see a rise in cases to the level of China. Take a look at the reasons why

India Covid-19 vaccination drive

India’s vaccine policy as been strict and has implemented with vigor. The government took a series of enabling policy and regulatory measures to encourage and incentivise the country’s scientists and private sector in this direction.

Early on in India’s fight against Covid-19, the government set up a Task Force focused on the vaccine as well as other science and technology issues.

By October 21, 2021, India had administered a total of 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to its population, and by July 17, 2022, the cumulative number of doses delivered had touched two billion.

According to Our World in Data, India had administered more than 2.20 billion cumulative Covid vaccination doses to its citizens as on October 24, 2022, which was equivalent to the cumulative doses delivered by the European Union (911.65 million), the United States (638 million), Brazil (473.10 million) and Russia (179.79 million).

Vaccines used in India are also more effective than China

While the Chinese population has been vaccinated by CoronaVac and Sinopharm, the Indian side have injected either Oxford/AstraZeneca’s Covishield or Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. According to a study, Covishield has better defence against severe infection, especially in old people as compared to CoronaVac.

China’s vaccines have been domestically made and they rely on older technology than the mRNA vaccines used elsewhere that have shown the best protection against infection.

A study conducted in Hong Kong, which has administered both an mRNA vaccine and Sinovac’s CoronaVac, suggested that CoronaVac requires a third shot to provide comparable protection, especially for the elderly.

Large population in India has already been infected with the virus

While china has seen nearly two million covid-19 cases cumulatively, India has experienced over 45 million infections since the pandemic began.

Due to the level of infections, India has already gone through multiple Covid-19 waves already, under various variants.

“Population immunity is much higher in India and our research suggests that most people have already been infected with Omicron, with a large fraction having had both Delta and Omicron infections,” Dr Anurag Agrawal, who has previously been associated with INSACOG told Moneycontrol.

India has already been seeing Omicron BF.7 variant

Omicron BF.7, sub-variant which is behind China’s current covid surge, has been in India since July.

India’s worst wave was in 2021 under the Delta waves, which saw the country struggling for oxygen and basic healthcare facilities. Later, the country experienced an Omicron wave, which was comparatively milder than the second wave.

Booster dose comparison

India introduced the precautionary or the booster shots on January 10 for health care workers, frontline workers, and citizens above 60 years of age with comorbidities. On April 10, this was extended for the all 18-plus population in private centres.

Also Read | Govt Wants You to Get Booster as China Covid Rises. Why It’s Important & How to Get 3rd Vaccine Shot

 Niti Aayog’s VK Paul informed that only 27-28% of India’s population had received the booster dose to date. He emphasised the importance of taking precautionary measures as cases rise alarmingly around the world.

“Only 27-28% of people took the precautionary dose. We urge others, particularly senior citizens, to exercise caution. “Everyone is required to take precautions and is advised to do so,” Dr Paul stated.

In China, around 60 per cent have received a booster, however older people are especially likely to have not had a booster vaccine. Over 9 million people older than 80 have not had the third vaccine, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

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