At HTLS 2020, experts say Covid-19 vaccine development is good news

Two medical experts said on Thursday the news about the development of the vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is exciting and more than what they had expected. Randeep Guleria, the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and Ashish K Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, also talked about what the way forward against the coronavirus pandemic could be.

“No one considered such a high vaccine efficacy, especially in the older population,” Guleria said at the inaugural session of the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. Guleria, along with Jha, was speaking to Hindustan Times’ editor-in-chief R Sukumar during the session Covid-19; Where Do We Stand.

Guleria, among the first speakers at HTLS 2020, also cautioned that the challenge would be to reach out to the frontline population for getting them vaccinated. “The Indian government is in talks with Pfizer but not so much with Moderna. We have two challenges in front of us now. One, to break the transmission chain and the second is to make the vaccine available to all,” Guleria, who is also a key member of the government’s task force against the fight against the coronavirus disease, said.

Jha said the evidence so far about the Covid-19 vaccines has been largely reassuring. “There is still a lot more that remains unknown… Some people have no symptoms at all. In the early phase, it works like a normal virus. In the second phase, it aggravates,” Jha said.

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India recorded 45,576 new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), taking total infections to 8.96 million, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday. Before this, India had been reporting less than 39,000 daily infections for the past three days. India has the world’s second-highest number of Covid-19 infections after the United States, but cases have been falling since hitting a peak in September. Fatalities in the country rose by 585, with the death toll now at 131,578, the ministry said.

Guleria and Jha were the first speakers at the 18th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. The theme of this year’s HTLS, which will be held virtually, is ‘Defining a New Era’ as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. The live discussions with leaders across sectors will be spread over four weeks and will be held every Thursday and Friday.

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