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No Data to Show Children will be Seriously Infected in Subsequent Covid-19 Waves: AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria

Dr Randeep Guleria

It is a piece of misinformation that subsequent waves of the Covid-19 pandemic are going to cause severe illness in children. There is no data – either from India or globally – to show that children will be seriously infected in subsequent waves.” This was informed by the Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, Dr Randeep Guleria, during a media briefing on Covid-19.

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Dr Guleria cited that 60% to 70% of the children who got infected and got admitted to hospitals during the second wave in India, had either comorbidities or low immunity; healthy children recovered with mild illness without need for hospitalisation.

Director AIIMS also explained why waves occur in any pandemic. Waves normally occur in pandemics caused due to respiratory viruses; the 1918 Spanish Flu, H1N1 (swine) flu are examples, said Dr Guleria. “The second wave of 1918 Spanish Flu was the biggest, after which there was a smaller third wave.”

And as we know, he added, SARS-Cov-2 is a respiratory virus. “Multiple waves occur when there is a susceptible population. When a large part of the population acquires immunity against the infection, the virus becomes endemic and infection becomes seasonal – like that of H1N1 that commonly spreads during monsoon or winters. Also, waves can occur due to change in the virus (such as new variants). Since new mutations become more infectious, there is a higher chance for the virus to spread. One of the reasons behind a wave can be human behaviour”

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Dr Guleria cautioned: “Whenever cases increase, there is a fear in people and human behaviour changes. People strictly follow Covid Appropriate behaviours and non-pharmaceutical interventions help break the chain of transmission. But when unlocking resumes, people tend to think that not much infection will happen and tend to not follow Covid appropriate behaviour. Due to this, the virus again starts spreading in the community, leading potentially to another wave.”

The AIIMS Director said that if the nation has to stop subsequent waves, it needs to aggressively follow Covid appropriate behaviour until it can say that a significant number of its population is vaccinated or has acquired natural immunity. “When enough people are vaccinated or when we acquire natural immunity against the infection, then these waves will stop. The only way out is to strictly follow Covid appropriate behaviour.”

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