Sat, 28 May 2022

By Shalini BhardwajNew Delhi [India], January 26 (ANI): Covid-19 will become endemic and we can't eradicate it, said a prominent Harvard immunologist and added that vaccinations and drugs will make some impact.

These remarks were made by Dr Shiv Pillai, Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology, Director, Harvard Immunology Graduate Program at the Harvard Medical School.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Dr Pillai said, "I think it will become an endemic state where we will start to live with some level of the virus, hopefully, less virulent virus. So it's not such a bad disease for most people. I think that's where we will end up in maybe a few years. I think vaccinations will get better and the drugs are going to change things a lot."The Harvard Immunologist said that drugs like Paxlovid and Cipla will probably change the course of this pandemic.

"So I think yes, we will get very good control with drugs and vaccines and we will be in a better place but we won't eradicate, it will be around," he said.

As Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has already said that Omicron has reached in community, Dr Pillai said that BA.2 which is the second version of Omicron is slightly different that prolong the wave in India.

Noting that Omicron is going through community spread all over the world, he said, "In India, there is a variant of Omicron BA.2 that's also spreading, it is different from Omicron. In fact, Omicron BA.1 is the original, but it's slightly different."He also underlined some concerns that the Omicron wave may have a prolonged effect in India. "It is a very different virus from the Delta that was in India before."Dr Pillai further stated the first version is slightly milder than the original virus milder than delta, alpha, beta and gamma and it did not affect the lungs as badly.

"So as a result, the deaths and severity of the disease is definitely been less with Omicron which is first version BA.1 and the second version of Omicron, we don't have yet enough studies to know this. We are hoping it will be like so only from the first version that is not as severe that it does not affect the lungs as much. But we don't know it. We are waiting to see that. We hope that's what it turns out to be the case. But we don't know that's being studied there," he said.

He further said that Omicron BA.1 can give some immunity against second version BA.2.

"So yes, immunity from BA.1 first Omicron might give us some immunity against the second one BA.2. But will that second one be as mild? Not proven yet. We'll see the data will probably come from South Africa and India first. Because in India, BA.2 has taken over it is the most common version in India right now. It's rising the second version of Omicron."As the US is still reporting the highest Covid cases, Dr Pillai said that most of the cases in the US are of BA.1.

"No, because we're tracking for some reason BA.1 is much more common here. But BA.2 will rise I'm sure at some point. But India, certainly in some parts of the world in South Asia BA.2 is pretty prominent right now. But you know, it varies this will change in different places. But certainly, Omicron is going down in the US right now. But the worry is BA.2 will come and will it rise again? Or we'll just keep going down. We don't know yet."In South Africa, he said, "the wave came down but there is many BA.2. So we don't know whether there'll be another wave or it won't be another wave. It will just come and remain for some time. We don't know that."On reinfection of Omicron, the Harvard Immunologist said, "So, all coronaviruses do not give immunity for very long times. So you get infected you can get infected again, maybe for six months. You have some protection. But you know, even the Common Cold coronaviruses we don't get immunity for a long time.""I mean eventually so unless you will be vaccinated if you are boosted, your chances are they will go down some doesn't mean reduce your chances. But if you're boosted anywhere masks when you are in those with other people that you don't know and so on, you will probably be protected for much longer. But most people will get infected with them and a large number of people will get it," he added.

Explaining how antiviral drug Paxlovid works, Dr Pillai said, "Paxlovid is a drug so the virus needs some enzymes it can mutate its surface characteristics. So it can change it to avoid the immune system, but it cannot change the enzymes within it, which are required for the virus to multiply. Okay, and that one of the enzymes are proteins Paxlovid is directed against the protease of SARS CoV 2 virus cannot afford to mutate. Because if it mutates that then it can't function, right." (ANI)

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