Vaccinating the rest of population a challenge, warns top virologist

Dr Gagandeep Kang said it is difficult to inoculate the whole population because of cultural differences and vaccine hesitation

The top virologist said the country should now focus its energies on preventing future outbreaks of diseases and be on guard with an upgraded surveillance system and adequate data so that we are not caught unawares.

India’s success in administering over 100 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines is a milestone, but the journey ahead is going to be a tough one, said virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang.

Speaking to News18.com, Dr Kang said India is definitely in a better position when compared to the rest of the world, but the real challenges begins now.

Known for her contribution in making rotavirus vaccine, Dr Kang recently said the COVID-19 pandemic has become endemic in India and the possibility of a third wave is unlikely, but said the challenge of vaccinating the whole population is huge because of cultural differences and vaccine hesitation in certain pockets of the population.

“First 10, 20 or 70% is easy but the last 10, 20% is harder to do because here you are talking about the population that is difficult to reach (or convince) because of one or the other reason or they are the one with highest level of vaccine hesitancy,” Dr Kang told the media house.

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The top virologist said the country should now focus its energies on preventing future outbreaks of diseases and be on guard with an upgraded surveillance system and adequate data so that we are not caught unawares.

Also read: Slow starter India crosses 100 crore COVID vaccination milestone

Dr Kang stressed on timely revision of protocols for tracing and testing. The country has moved ahead of the first and second waves and what was effective last year may no longer be relevant in future, she said.

“We should start thinking about how we will monitor this disease from now onwards apart from increasing the recording of data on vaccination and Covid cases. Also, we should prepare hospitals and public health systems for what lies ahead,” she told News18.com.

Earlier, Dr Kang had expressed her reservations on vaccinating children. “We need to wait and try to develop a vaccine for kids that can offer protection against new variants instead of vaccinating them now,” she told India Today.

Dr Kang, who is a professor with Christian Medical College, Vellore, said that mRNA vaccines are a good option for children with comorbidities.

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