Virologist Dr Ian Lipkin on Saturday said that there may be more variants of Covid-19, which are already appearing. He was speaking at the India Today Conclave.
“Covid-19 has surprised us since it first emerged. I hope it’s over but can not say with great confidence, it depends on how we respond,” Lipkin said.
He added that long Covid is an emerging challenge, where people has mild symptoms but remained crippled with cognitive dysfunction, shortness of breath, fatigue for a long time and even if the virus disappears, they might continue to remain infected. “It’s a complicated picture and we have to think about acute disease and the importance of preventing a future pandemic,” Lipkin said.
Talking about the criticality of vaccination, the virologist said that India is poised to lead the world with its capability to manufacture vaccines.
“I think in 12 months from now, we will be at a better place and people will step up and support WHO and GAVI in ensuring vaccination for all,” Dr Lipkin said. He added that 90 per cent of the world will need to be vaccinated, and in the meantime, we still need to socially distance and wear masks.
Dr Ian Lipkin was a consultant on the Matt Damon starred Contagion that depicted a virus outbreak in 2011, which was uncannily similar to the one the world experienced following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Talking about the next possible outbreak, Dr Ian Lipkin said, “The thing that I am most concerned about is a new influenza virus, which is continuously evolving. It is possible it may challenge us once again. I am still worried about flu and other things like what HIV has done. These should be on our radar. Preventing this is cheap, we have designed a surveillance system with just the cost of 0.001 per cent of the economic burden, and we must do it, I have been preaching this for a long time.”
Meanwhile, on questions of schools reopening, he said that the percentage of the completely vaccinated Indian population is very small, which is less than 20 per cent, while 30 per cent of the population is under 18 and are not eligible to be vaccinated. “India does not have that armour to open up and it’s difficult decision politically just like in the US, where vaccination rates are low in southern states. The chronic burden we see is extraordinary.”
“I think we are better than halfway in the fight against the virus and I hope that people will partner up with us in the Global Alliance in preventing Pandemic (GAP),” he added,