Indians have hybrid immunity against BF.7, travel ban not effective: Dr Guleria | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Indians have hybrid immunity against BF.7, travel ban not effective: Dr Guleria

Dec 24, 2022 05:21 PM IST

Dr Randeep Guleria said India's present situation is comfortable and there will be no need for any ban on international flights.

Unlike China, India is safe from another wave of the Covid pandemic because of the hybrid immunity of the population, former AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said amid apprehension triggered by China's unprecedented surge. As India on Saturday made RT-PCR test mandatory for passengers coming from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, Dr Guleria said India's situation is comfortable and there is no need to restrict international flights. Speaking to PTI, Dr Guelria said past experiences show that banning flights is not very effective in halting the transmission of infection. Read | Amid Omicron BF.7 spread, here are signs your cough is due to Covid-19

BF.7 in India: Former AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria said travel ban is not effective anymore.
BF.7 in India: Former AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria said travel ban is not effective anymore.

Hybrid immunity is the combined effect of natural infection and vaccination. " "A fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as the Indian population already has hybrid immunity because of a very good vaccination coverage and natural infection," Dr Guleria said.

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Read | 'Our immunity robust... but...': Ex-AIIMS director to HT amid China Covid surge

It is very unlikely that a fresh outbreak will take place in India requiring hospitalisation as the BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron has already been there in India.

Epidemiologist Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, speaking to PTI, elaborated on the ineffectiveness of a travel ban in the present situation. "We had seen this a year ago with the Omicron variant. Clearly, travel bans have no role anymore. And secondly, India has over 250 sub-variants of Omicron already. And, therefore, the most rational approach is to random sampling -- with no mandates and minimal inconvenience to passengers -- for incoming international passengers. The purpose would be to keep track of emerging covid sub-variants," he said.

The Centre jumped into action as soon as China's Covid situation started worsening after it lifted the stringent lockdown. While the Union health minister met state health ministers and advised them to ramp up testing and genome sequencing, PM Modi also held a high-level meeting to review the pandemic situation.

Experts have cautioned against panicking as India's situation is not comparable with that of China as the country is just opening up and the population inoculated with Chinese vaccines do not have natural immunity.

However, as a precautionary measure, the RT-PCR test has been made mandatory for passengers from specific countries. "After landing in India, they will undergo thermal screening and we have issued an order for them to be quarantined if found positive or with fever on their arrival in the country," health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Saturday.

(With inputs from agencies)

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