Wild virus D614, G614, Alpha, Delta, BA.1 Omicron BA.2 spread every nook and corner of the world even at a time of lockdowns when there were no national or international flights.
But BA.4 and BA.5, the evolved versions of Omicron, remain restricted to the US and Europe and created havoc.
India remained largely free of BA.4 and BA. 5. And this happened at a time when the world had adopted the Open Air policy and the number of national and international flights operation had increased, and masks had started dropping.
Only one difference: Vaccines
Vaccines used against COVID-19 have trifurcated the World
A) The whole virus killed vaccine Covaxin or Vector based Covishiled vaccine produce long-lasting immunity and wider immunity protecting against evolving strains because they have multiple epitopes
B) Delta ran through Indians in the Second wave giving Inherent Immunity to more than 70% of people.
C). Ethnically Indians might have better immunity though only ethnic prevalence data of BA.4 and BA.5 could prove or disprove the fact.
2. Western world
A) The United States and Europe primarily used mRNA vaccines which seem to be turning ineffective in protecting against evolving viruses.
B) Extremely specific Spike protein epitope in mRNA vaccines served a good purpose in the initial phase but proved futile as Virus Outsmarted the vaccine by mutation.
C) mRNA vaccines require repeated booster after booster to maintain efficiency.
D) Now German American mRNA vaccine needs to be tweaked for Omicron.
Lesson: Old is Gold
The 3rd section of the world
China also used killed virus vaccines but they were poor quality vaccines, and secondly, China followed Zero Covid policy depriving people of natural immunity.
So China continues to face virus surges in different cities now and then.
Lesson: Virus can’t be chased. You need to just have a strong back.
*Dr. Satish K Gupta is an MD in Medicines, a Visiting Senior Consultant Physician and Internist at Max Super Speciality Hospital, and a Clinical Assistant Professor at GS Medical College, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. He is the author of Journey of COVID in India: A Doctor’s Perspective.