"We need to develop a strategy where we can reach out to people," Dr Randeep Guleria said.
The Covid surge in the country is due to a new strain and the situation is exactly like the one in the UK when the virus underwent a mutation around Christmas, Dr Randeep Guleria, chief of Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, has said.
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The country is seeing a surge around Holi "because the same sort of situation is repeating itself," Dr Guleria told NDTV. "It is likely that there is a variant which is causing the virus to be more infectious and this is part of what we tend to see," he added.
While the high numbers need to be linked to the epidemiological data, "the fact that the data is not there does not mean it is not happening," he said. The government has so far maintained that there is no evidence that the surge is linked to a mutation of the coronavirus.
"It is likely logically that if there is a sudden surge in cases, there is something which is happening which is making the virus more infectious," added Dr Guleria, who is also a principal member of the Centre's Covid Task Force.
The AIIMS chief also said there is a need to "reach out to the people" with the vaccine – another possibility the government has negated. "We need to develop a strategy where we can reach out to people and give them the vaccination but do it in a way that we are confident that we can take care of any adverse effect which happens," Dr Guleria told NDTV.
Dr Guleria also said both AstraZeneca/Serum Institute, which is manufacturing Covishield, and Bharat Biotech, the maker of Covaxin, are looking at a dose which would be appropriate for children.
"If we really need to control the pandemic and have children back to school and be comfortable with that, we will have to look for vaccines which are for children," he said.
The Union health ministry had cited potential adverse events after receiving a vaccine as a big reason why door-to-door vaccination is not an option for now. "There may be adverse events following vaccination, for which, you need to keep a person under watch for 30 minutes," the health secretary had said on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the government had said that the Covid situation is going from "bad to worse over the last few weeks" and "any complacency at this stage, and at any level, will have heavy costs".
Underscoring the need for saturation vaccination in districts with a high case load, the Centre has written to the Chief Secretaries. This, the government said, should be done within two weeks, for the priority age group of 45 year and above.
At the Delhi Airport, passengers arriving from states witnessing a Covid surge will be tested randomly and "those found positive shall be mandatorily quarantined," the government has said. The move will be followed next at railway and bus stations.