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Coronavirus

Health Ministry: herd immunity is not an option for India

The Indian Health Ministry doesn't consider so-called "herd immunity" an option that can help such a populous country eliminate the spread of Covid-19.

Update:
A doctor (R) checks the body temperature of a man at a containment zone implemented as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Chennai on July 30, 2020. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)
ARUN SANKARAFP

The Indian Health Ministry said on Thursday that so-called "herd immunity" can't be considered a strategic option for countering Covid-19, calling on people to follow safety protocol measures and guidelines until a proper vaccine is developed.

Rajesh Bhushan, an officer on special duty at the Ministry of Health, said at a press briefing when asked whether herd immunity could be considered as India's last resort to in its battle to stem Covid-19 in such a populous country that the idea, initially considered by countries including the UK and Sweden, cannot work as a strategic choice. "It can only be an outcome and at a very high human cost. It cannot be a strategic option because it will come at a very high cost,” Bhushan said.

Herd immunity is a resistance to the spread of an infectious disease within a population through a vaccine or a previous infection. Indian health authorities believe that this kind of indirect protection will not be effective in a country with a population of 1.38 billion.

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Safety protocol measures are the current vaccine

A health worker checks the body temperature of a woman at a containment zone implemented as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Chennai.
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A health worker checks the body temperature of a woman at a containment zone implemented as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Chennai.ARUN SANKARAFP

He also urged people to maintain all Covid-19-related measures and safety protocols laid out by health authorities including wearing face masks and gloves, continuous washing and sanitization of hands and maintaining social distance until a vaccine is developed.

Bhushan noted that phases 1 and 2 of clinical trials of two indigenously developed vaccines are completed but emphasized that until a vaccine is fully developed, the appropriate behavior remains the social vaccine against Covid-19.

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