No, don’t leave yet. We have yet to decide whether everyone over the age of 50 gets a booster dose. Omicron is spreading all over the world so it will cause some more waves. Hopefully there won’t be a worse variant but we have to be careful. Emphasis has to be placed on vaccination.
Some time ago you said that we have not yet seen the worst of the pandemic?
A lot of research is needed to understand the variants. We were all shocked by the havoc Delta wreaked in India. Omicron also surprised, so can’t say how dangerous the next variant will be. Although I think the risk of more bad variants is less now.
You have written in your book that the death toll determines how well a country fought the pandemic. How do you measure India?
The death toll in rich countries is higher than the rest. The reason for this is also the high elderly population in these countries. Regarding India, I think he has done a wonderful job. From making the vaccine to taking it to the people, the work was done well. Immunization coverage in India is better than in the US. Now all he has to do is focus on giving boosters to the elderly. As far as the right and wrong of the lockdown is concerned, the brainstorming is going on right now.
There is a worldwide debate on how true the official figures of deaths from Kovid are. Do you think that countries deliberately suppress the figures and this is possible in a democracy?
There will always be some uncertainty in this matter. Experts will be able to take a better look at the figures in the coming time. The death toll in India is less than that of rich countries. There is still debate going on as to what is the correct figure. I think gradually a consensus will be formed in this matter as well. The government has done what it could in the uncertain times of the pandemic. At that time, masks and vaccines were the only defense and the Indian government did very well in terms of vaccines. Where the government had control, it did it. Vaccines may not be perfect, but they have prevented deaths and serious diseases to some extent. When Omicron came, the vaccines did not protect against reinfection. That’s why I believe that a lot of research is still needed.
A large section was upset due to the lockdown in India. Do you think that between the first and second wave could have been done better?
No country has been able to decide when the lockdown should be imposed, when it should not. At the beginning of the epidemic, I thought that the death toll in middle-income countries like India could be higher than in rich countries, but it did not happen. Because due to vaccination, everyone came out of it very quickly.
How would you rate India’s response to COVID so far and efforts to contain the next wave on a scale of 1 to 10?
Oxygen centers were set up very fast in India and vaccination was done at the same speed. Even vaccines were sent abroad, so I would give a rating of 7 or 8 to India.