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When Will The Vaccine Will Be Available To Bangaloreans? Very Soon Says Dr Ramana Rao

So the big question is, when are we Bangaloreans going to get the vaccine? We asked Dr Rao a set of questions ranging from what the vaccine is and why fewer Indians die from it compared with people in the western nations.

In March 2020 — with all the confusion of Covid resulting from the pandemic-panic — Dr Ramana Rao (Padmashree awardee and Bangalore celeb), made an educated guess that we would have a vaccine in “less than a year”.

Dr Rao was right. Other doctors we spoke to had been sceptical, but Dr Rao was sure.

He had told Explocity back in March 2020 that labs had isolated an offending protein in the virus and now it was a matter of engineering rather than discovery.

Now, in January 2021, we have a vaccine. And from what we can see, it works fine.

So the big question is, when are we Bangaloreans going to get the vaccine? We asked Dr Rao a set of questions ranging from what the vaccine is and why fewer Indians die from it compared with people in the western nations.

Explocity: Dr Rao, when are we getting the vaccine?

Rao: In four weeks, everyone should be able to get it.

Could you break down the deployment of vaccination for us?

At first, everyone in the medical profession will get vaccinated. There are 650,000 frontline medical workers in Karnataka, of which about 150,000 are doctors. All India, that number is 10 million.

I expect that will not take more than 3-4 days to accomplish.

The next set of people to receive the vaccine will be those over 60 with comorbidities. And after that, everyone else — barring those under 18 and also pregnant and lactating women.

How long will it take for the vaccine to be commonly available to all?

As I said, in about four weeks, everyone not ineligible ought to get the vaccine. 

Is that ambitious? Do we have the resources for such deployment?

Oh yes. You know what I said about the timeline to vaccinate frontline people? Well, that can be ramped up a hundredfold. We have excellent facilities. We have enough to get started with no hurdles to restocking.

Also there are so many other brands of vaccine under release and soon, you will be able to simply buy the vaccine as you would, say a flu vaccine.

As straightforward as that? No ifs and buts?

Yes. And no ifs and buts.

Going back a year, you predicted there would be a vaccine. How did you know?

Once I knew that they had isolated the protein that was causing the virus to take root, I knew it would not take much time to develop a vaccine.

What did it take to develop the vaccine? How did it get done?

It has been an interesting effort.

The core of understanding how the development works is to understand it is a matter of technology. When you have a fight on your hands against a virus whose cause you have isolated, you take the fight cell to cell.

Usually it takes years to develop and release a vaccine. In the case of the coronavirus vaccine, the effort was global. There was use of technology in the free flow of information between labs and the medical profession worldwide. Everyone pooled resources and knowledge was commonly shared. It was a terrific effort.

In India, the virus has not been as devastating as the western nations. Why not?

Genes is one reason. But for me, I believe that in India, with our lack of hygiene, we have been exposed to all sorts of infection and we have had to repeatedly fight viruses of one nature or the other. Our immune systems are clearly more hardy as a result.

Sometimes I guess it pays not to be hygienic (laughs).

Then it is very possible that a large number of Indians don’t know they had Covid because of little or no symptoms? 

Very possible

And they would have developed antibodies?

Again, yes, that should be the case.

So should they take the vaccine? Why?

They totally should. The vaccine will boost their immunity even further.

Should everyone take the vaccine?

Barring the exceptions I mentioned earlier, yes. I strongly believe that.

 

Also read letter from the Ministry of Health on the guidelines for vaccine deployment:

 

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