BF.7 and XBB: ‘India doing fine, masks hold little value if…’ says Dr Gagandeep Kang
Virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang said India does not need restrictions but precautions but China will see a lot of infections like that of India's second wave.
Virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang on Friday broke down the current Covid situation in India in comparison with China and said India is doing fine and won't require travel restrictions but China will see 'lots and lots of infections', similar to what India witnessed during the second wave of the pandemic in April-May 2021, or in January 2022. "At the moment, India is doing fine. We have few cases, we have had the XBB and BF.7 for a while and they have not driven an upsurge in India. In the absence of an even more highly infectious variant, I do not expect a surge," the virologist said. Read | Three reasons India will not see a Covid-wave like China’s
'Winter making pandemic situation in China worse'
Dr Kang said China is opening up at a time when its population has low levels of exposure to natural infection. On Chinese vaccines being ineffective, Dr Kang said the vaccines that they administered work well to prevent severe disease and death but they are less effective that mRNA vaccines. "When lots get sick, that includes healthcare workers. Understaffed, overloaded hospitals mean poorer care for patients. Also in winter, other viruses/infections result in more hospitalisations (the tripledemic in the rest of the world), making this bad time in hospitals," Dr Kang said.
'No new variant'
Dr Kang said the variants now driving the surge in China have been in the rest of the world for months. The behaviour pattern has not changed. "In India as well, we already have XBB and BF.7 (the 2 being hyped as new monsters). They are, like all Omicron subvariants, very good at infecting people because they escape the immune response that prevents infection, but are not causing more severe disease than delta," Dr Kang said.
'No signal of new wave in India; no travel restrictions required'
"Should we travel? Risk perception again, but no need to stop right now. There is very little infection in India. Travel, wear a mask if you are worried. Outside India, some places have more infections, wear a mask & go travel (not China at the moment)" Dr Kang said.
'Masking has little value'
As the government has urged people to mask up to stay safe, Dr Kang said it is important to understand the purpose of masking. For a healthy person, masking holds very little value, she said, according to her opinion. "If you have any respiratory infection, stay home. If you need to go out, go masked. If you are vulnerable, stay masked in unfamiliar company or if someone around you is obviously ill. If there is a lot of infections/cases in the community, staying masked in crowds is good," Dr Kang explained.