‘Need to follow Covid-19 protocol even after vaccine is available, masks here to stay’: ICMR chief

The health protocols put in place to tackle the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will stay for a long time and people will have to keep wearing masks even after a vaccine is available, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief professor Balram Bhargava has said.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Dr Bhargava said that India is making rapid progress as far as the development of Covid-19 vaccine is concerned. “We have a target to provide vaccine to 30 crore people by July next year. The future course of action will be decided after that. India will develop a vaccine, not just for itself but for 60 per cent of the developing nations. Twenty four manufacturing units and 19 firms will be engaged in developing a Covid-19 vaccine,” Hindustan Times’ sister publication Hindustan quoted prof Bhargava as saying on Saturday.

The ICMR director general also said that masks will stay because they work like a vaccine.

“Mask is like a fabric vaccine. We cannot ignore the contribution made by masks in stopping the spread of Covid-19. We are working on vaccines, five candidates are undergoing trial in India. Out of these, two are being developed by India which three are from abroad. But vaccines won’t be enough to end Covid-19. We will have to keep following health and safety protocols,” Dr Bhargava added at the webinar titled ‘Changing paradigms in Covid-19 management’.

He said that masks play an important role in keeping those people safe who have recovered from the infection.

“They (masks) may even never go away. The vaccine will give some protection but masks or the fabric vaccine will have to continue. I don’t think we can give up these measures including social distancing,” said Prof Bhargava, who ruled out the possibility of another lockdown when asked.

The webinar was held on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a three-city tour to Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad to personally review the development and manufacturing of the vaccine.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Pune’s Serum Institute of India (SII), Ahmedabad’s Zydus Biotech Park and Hyderabad’s Bharat Biotech was aimed at getting the first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges and roadmap in the country’s endeavour to vaccinate its citizens.

According to Union ministry of health, as many as 93,51,110 cases of Covid-19 have been reported thus far including 87,59,969 recoveries and 4,54,940 active cases.

By Hindustan Times

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