New strains of the coronavirus could be more infectious, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi chief Dr. Randeep Guleria said in a recent interview.
According to Dr. Guleria, the new strains of the virus can cause reinfections and this could render the vaccines less effective. This makes herd immunity a "myth" in India, he said.
Speaking to NDTV on Saturday, Dr. Guleria said that herd immunity is a "myth" in India.
At least 80% of people would need to have antibodies for the entire population to be protected, he said.
He said mutations of the virus have "immune escape mechanisms" that could threaten the immunity achieved by a person through vaccinations or the disease and cause reinfections.
Further, Dr. Guleria said herd immunity would particularly be difficult to achieve considering the new strains found in Maharashtra, which he said could be highly transmissible and dangerous.
This underlines the need for proper compliance with COVID-19 appropriate behavior, Dr. Guleria said.
"India needs to go back to aggressive measures of testing, contact tracing, and isolating infections," he added.
Dr. Shashank Joshi, a member of Maharashtra's COVID Task Force, told NDTV that 240 new strains of the virus have surfaced across India. These are responsible for the latest surge of infections in the state, he said.
Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab have also been witnessing a spike.
Overall, India has reported 1,09,91,651 infections, including 1,56,302 deaths, 1,06,89,715 recoveries, and 1,45,634 active infections.
Dr. Guleria said while the vaccines will continue to be effective against the new variants of the virus, their efficacy might be lesser.
He, however, said that getting vaccinated is a must.
Thus far, 1,10,85,173 health and frontline workers have been vaccinated across India in the first phase of the vaccination drive, which aims to cover 3 crore workers. (NDTV)