Last week, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said of the pandemic, “the end is in sight”.

Closer home, veteran virologist Gagandeep Kang seems to agree. A major outbreak is unlikely unless three factors come together – a new variant emerges, it is highly transmissible and causes severe disease, Kang told businessline.

At present, one in about 100 people are likely to be infected, she said, citing the example of Vellore, where people were tested over time to map how many carried the infection. Between the hybrid immunity that many developed as a result of being infected and getting vaccinated, a lot of people may have the infection but that does not progress to a severe disease, said Kang, professor with The Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Christian Medical College ,Vellore.

The three factors

There still could be a new variant that could cause an up-and-down of positive cases locally, she said, reiterating that it would require all three factors of variant, transmissiblity and severity to strike together to cause an outbreak like the country saw early last year.

School students showing vaccination card after being inoculated earlier this year in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu

School students showing vaccination card after being inoculated earlier this year in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu | Photo Credit:

Kang has not been in favour of blanket booster vaccination policies, with some countries even going in for the fourth dose. She said the “precautionary” approach to the third dose was the right one, to be given only to the elderly and those vulnerable. Whether it should be an annual shot, is something that would need to be calibrated, depending on the data, she explained.

After more than two years of the pandemic, Tedros had signalled optimism recently, when he said the preceeding week had recorded the lowest number of weekly deaths reported from Covid-19, since March 2020. “A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we,” he said.

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