You have sent us a piece of information titled “A Spanish doctor living in India warns that only vaccinated people are becoming infected”. The article is based on the interview given by Amaia Foces, a Spanish doctor who lives in New Delhi, at the TV program AR on 29 April, in which she explained the uncontrolled situation that the country is living due to the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 variant with two mutations. This is MISLEADING. Foces did acknowledge that vaccinated people are becoming infected, but she also explained that perhaps a single dose of AstraZeneca is not enough to protect against the Indian variant. Immunised people (only about 12%) are not the only ones who have been infected with the new variant.
"A Spanish doctor living in India warns that only vaccinated people are becoming infected"
From March onwards, says the doctor, she began to see an increase in the number of infections “and I could see they were vaccinated people”. By no means does this mean that all newly infected people have received the vaccine. India, the second most populated country in the world with 1300 million people, registered more than 350000 new daily infections and even overcame the boundary of 400000 in May, according to official data.
On the 4th of May it overcame the number of 20 million infections, of which less than 0,05% were vaccinated, according to government data reported in local media. In fact, the vaccination rate has just surpassed 12,5% of the population with 158 million people who have received at least one dose and the situation the country is living in has saturated the public health system and hospitals do not have oxygen for all the patients. The situation has derived towards a humanitarian crisis due to the large number of daily registered deaths.
Indian authorities are vaccinating the population with AstraZeneca, under the commercial name Covishield and Covaxin, manufactured by an Indian laboratory. Both are administered in two doses, but the first dose has 79% efficacy and the second one 81%. Since it does not protect the 100% of vaccinated people, a small fraction of vaccinated people can be infected, causing a domino effect and infecting other people if hygiene measures and social distance are not respected.
A variant with unknown effects
The characteristics of the variant B.1.617 are still unknown and whether it is more contagious or resistant to the already existing vaccines. The general firector of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, said on April 26 during a press conference that “a lot of countries continue experiencing an intense transmission of covid-19 and that the situation in India is painful”, suggesting that the variant has the capacity to be more infectious.
Immunologist and ISGlobal scientific writer Adelaida Sarukhan explained to Verificat that, “at the moment there is no evidence from the field that this variant is more transmissible or that it reduces the efficacy of vaccines”. Sarukhan cites a study that has not yet been reviewed by scientific journals for publication, pointing out that both Covishield and Covaxin “are able to neutralise the Indian variant”. The investigation stresses that “a light reduction in neutralising activity is observed”, that is, a higher level of antibodies is needed to combat this variant.
Enforcing hygiene and social distance in a population of 1.3 billion people, who are used to living in groups, is a very difficult task. Isolating oneself for quarantine is also impossible for many families with few resources, who share one-room dwellings or that, directly, live in the street. Moreover, in recent months, various celebrations which have promoted social encounters have coincided and, consequently, the possible spread of the virus. On one side, the Kumbh Mela, an important Hindu festivity which brings together the largest number of pilgrims in the world, took place between January and April. Pilgrims mainly immerse themselves in sacred rivers, mainly in the Ganges, to clean themselves of their sins and rid themselves of the cycle of reincarnations. On the other side, elections have been developed in four states with about 225 million people. Nor should it be forgotten that the second half of April has been the wedding season in India, according to the calendar of the most favourable days for marriage, which all Hindus consult to choose their day.
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