Virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang suggests reopening of schools in a phased manner with vaccinated staff
New Delhi [India], August 5: As the COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks decreased significantly after the nation witnessed a ravaging second wave in April-May, India’s top virologist Dr. Gagandeep Kang on Thursday said that schools should be reopened in a phased manner with vaccinated teachers and staff.
The virologist, who is also Vice-chairman of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Board, said, “The schools should be reopened in a phased manner and the schools should be frequently sanitized. Social distancing should be maintained in the classrooms and all the staff must be vaccinated.” She said that the protection of inoculation is needed for those children who have comorbidity conditions.
“Healthy children are less likely to contract the disease. The children do not get sick as often as adults, so we need to protect the children with comorbidities,” said Dr Kang.
The virologist said that physical interactions with teachers are very important for children.
Kang said that the children should be given an opportunity to get out and have social interactions.
“Learning through online classes will surely enhance their skills but physical interactions are very important,” she said.
“Before reopening, all the teachers should be vaccinated and classrooms should have good ventilation. Children should wear masks inside the classroom, and schools can be run on a shift basis. A lot of precautions should be taken before resuming the schools,” the virologist said.
Mixing and matching of vaccines will help overcome shortage
Mixing of COVID-19 vaccines should be done with the ones available in India, Dr Gagandeep Kang, Christian Medical College, Vellore’s professor, and top microbiologist and virologist said on Thursday adding that it will help to overcome the vaccine shortage. Dr. Kang said, “There are many studies being done around the world, and studies on Viral vector vaccines and mRNA vaccines show that our immune system becomes better if you mix vaccines. So that’s good for us to know and we should try and see what happens with the vaccines that are available in India.”
Notably, there are many countries that are doing research on the mixing and matching of Covid-19 vaccines. Recently, Sputnik V has also shown no serious illness during trials during the of mixing Sputnik V and Astrazeneca vaccines.
Recently, the Subject Expert Committee has also given permission to Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore to start trials for mixing of Covid-19 vaccines administered in India – Covishield, and Covaxin.
Dr. Kang also said that the mixing and matching of Covid -19 vaccines will help to overcome the vaccine shortage.
“The most important thing is that we have been seeing vaccine shortages and people having to wait at vaccination center be disappointed when they don’t get the second dose. The advantage is that knowing that you can give any vaccine, it is good for the program and good for people. So, it doesn’t matter which vaccine you get, you know that your chances of being protected are very high,” she said.
“There is a programmatic reason as well as a scientific reason for these studies and I think we are going to need many more of them. CMC is one of them who are starting this study but I know many others are also planning to do such studies,” she added.
“We should actually be thinking of future vaccines and planning these studies as early as possible,” she further said.