Amid fear of Covid 19-new variant Omicron, experts are urging people to wear masks as this may be the only step that could prevent the next wave. Currently, there is no data available on the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron. According to officials in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), it is difficult to say anything on the efficacy of vaccines as there is no sample available as yet. Meanwhile, Indian vaccine manufacturers have launched studies to assess Covid vaccine's efficacy against Omicron which may trigger the third wave.

“In absence of evidence on vaccine efficacy against the Omicron, use of masks is very important. Only by wearing masks, we can curb the next wave from happening. We really don't know how the new variant may behave, so only Covid-appropriate behaviour can protect us,” Pragya Yadav, Senior Scientist at ICMR- National Institute of Virology, Pune told BusinessLine .

“We have to adhere to Covid appropriate behaviour. There is no substitute for this. Even for vaccinated people, it is not a passport for immunity, so they also need to wear masks and follow social distancing norms,” Dr Kedar Toraskar – Director of Critical Care at Wockhardt Hospital said.

Global stock markets tumbled on Tuesday after the chief of US vaccine manufacturer Moderna, Stephane Bancel, told the Financial Times that Covid vaccines are unlikely to be effective against the new variant Omicron.

Letting their guard down

“In cities like Bhopal, adherence to social distancing, mask-wearing is lax to say the least. People can be seen sauntering around mask-less in malls, offices, commercial complexes and in markets,” Ashok Kumar, a resident of Bhopal said.

In places like Faridabad, Greater Noida, parts of Noida, people tend not to wear masks. In some parts of Delhi, adherence to mask-wearing guidelines is higher because there are flying squads.

Meanwhile, with the wedding season setting in, people can be seen in large crowds without following Covid-appropriate behaviour. “Nobody is wearing masks in Noida hotels. People are attending weddings in large crowds without maintaining appropriate distance,” a Noida-based resident, Kriti Gupta, who runs a beauty salon, told BusinessLine .

However, when BusinessLine approached Gurugram-based Cygnett Hotels and Resorts to know how they are ensuring Covid safety standards, its founder Sarbendra Sarkar said, “We have never put our guard down and have been strictly following a protocol to ensure our staff and guests are always safe. We keep evaluating our Covid safety standards from time to time based on the virus situation. We have already started that evaluation process keeping in mind the new variant and will surely be plugging any gaps we find.”

“In the wake of the new variant, even though we continue to follow all norms, we have become stricter about vaccine certificates and RT-PCR reports for wedding and event guests. At such large gatherings, we have made it a point to ensure that people are tested or are fully vaccinated, even though this isn't a government norm and we continue to follow state-wise cap on the number of guests allowed,” Vishal Lonkar, General Manager- Brand Development, Renest Hotels & Resorts based in Delhi said.