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India may turn into virus ‘base camp’, say Chinese experts

At a time when Indian media was relieved by high rate of coronavirus antibodies found in the New Delhi population, Chinese experts believed it did indicate the country’s inadequate virus control capacity, warning that India may even become a global ‘base camp’ for the virus if the situation continues after the borders reopen.

The natural herd immunity which Indian media hailed, although might be possible for New Delhi, was inhuman as it cost lives, Chinese analysts said, noting that the country may not easily reach herd immunity because it takes a long time, and by then the immunity in those previously infected would wane, which would result in a surge in infections and deaths.

The latest positivity rate from a serological survey conducted in January in Delhi was about 50 percent. The data demonstrated that at least half of the city’s 20 million people had been infected with the novel coronavirus, but official data released by its health authorities only recorded about 630,000 confirmed cases in the city, and just over 10 million total infections in the country.

The Global Times learned from local people that with the daily new cases continuing to drop in India in recent days, patients are able to access hospital treatment in an orderly manner, but it may be partially because not all coronavirus patients went to a hospital even with severe symptoms.

Indian media reported Monday that India saw its lowest surge in daily COVID-19 cases in nearly seven months, as the country reported 9,102 new cases in the last 24 hours. However, this did not mean the country would soon reach natural herd immunity, or soon get rid of the disease, Chinese experts said.

Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, told the Global Times that individuals may get immunity through infections, but those previously infected could still get infected after their immunity wanes, and they could still pass the disease to others.
The antibodies through infections cannot offer enough protection for the country’s population, Feng said.

WHO said that herd immunity against COVID-19 should be achieved by protecting people through vaccination, not by exposing them to the pathogen that causes the disease.
Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based expert on vaccines and immunology, told the Global Times that the results indicated that there were quite a number of asymptomatic patients that India has failed to detect and treat.

If India cannot detect and treat coronavirus patients quickly, the country could become a base camp for novel coronavirus and spread the virus to the rest of the world when borders between countries reopen,” a Beijing-based immunologist, who requested anonymity, said.

Tao warned that new virus variants detected in the UK and South Africa are a common enemy for all, and the protective barrier that the Indians generated could be weak against those new variants.

In contract to New Delhi, the positivity rate from a serological survey in Wuhan, the first city in China to see an outbreak, was only 4.43 percent, and in Hubei Province excluding Wuhan it was 0.44 percent, according to a national epidemiological survey of COVID-19 serum by China’s CDC.

The survey shows China has successfully fought the virus in Wuhan, and effectively prevented it from spreading on a much larger scale, as the overall population showed a low infection rate.

China is building a protective barrier among populations via vaccines on the premise of ensuring the health of the Chinese people, Tao said, slamming Indian media’s hailing of herd immunity as not something that a modern country should ever consider.

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