Imphal, May 31:
As the fourth lecture of the Virtual Series of National Talks organized by Fit India Campaign Committee and Fit India Club, Manipur University as a part of Fit India Movement, Prof. Lisam Shanjukumar Singh, Head, Department of Biotechnology, Manipur University who is also leading the Cancer and Molecular Biology Division, has delivered a talk on “Covid-19: Science of Variants, Vaccine, Testing and their Management”. The programme has been moderated by Dr. Ch. Ibohal Singh, Head, Department of Library & Information Science, M.U. and co-moderated by Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh, Associate Professor, Department of Manipuri, M.U. Dr. Laishram Santosh Singh, convener of the programme, welcomed all the panellists and participants of the fourth lecture of the Virtual Series of National Talks. Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh, Co-moderator, introduced the speaker, Prof. Lisam Shanjukumar Singh to the participants.
Talking on the origin, Prof. Lisam Shanjukumar Singh, in his lecture, informed that according to two British scientists, the origin of this SARS-Cov-2 virus is not natural, but manufactured by genetic engineering in research lab. Though, it is the simplest and weakest living virus particle that cannot replicate itself, is now putting billions of people under house arrest and taking the lives of millions of people in the world within a very short period of time. This simplest virus is becoming the highest authority of the world at present.
He has mentioned that all viruses evolve and mutate over time and SARS-Cov-2 is not different and it’s acquiring 1-2 new mutations every month. Explaining about the top variants of SARS Cov-2 in the world, he also explained about the some variants of concern India, especially that of B.1.617 variant which is responsible for second wave in India. With the more and more mutations, as the virus enhances its ability to spread more quickly creating more severe conditions to human, its ability to evade detection, its resistant to medical therapies and its ability to evade natural or vaccine-induced immunity, knowing the SARS-Cov 2 mutation/variant is very important for public health. Discussing about the need for sequencing of SARS-Covid-19 Genomes circulating in Manipur, he has said that it is better to know the variant circulating in Manipur, it can be done but need permission and funding, so it being expensive, it is better to utilise the resources in testing more and more samples by RT-PCR.
He also talked about the highly sophisticated human body’s immune system and how a vaccine works in our body to defend from a disease causing virus. He has explained about the 3 approaches to designing the vaccines and analysed the advantages and disadvantages of various vaccine strategies; also mentioned that RNA vaccine strategy has been approved for the first time in the world during this Covid-19 pandemic for emergency use authorization (EUA). At present there are 15 vaccines in the world that have been approved by WHO for EUA and very soon Covaxin also may be included in the list. Talking about the EUA, he has expressed his doubt whether we are laboratory rats or not, though the answer is Yes, but we don’t have other options.
Regarding the duration interval between the two doses of vaccine, he shared the findings of the studies mentioning that antibody responded more than two-fold higher after an interval of 12 or more weeks compared with an interval of less than 6 weeks. Sharing the findings of the studies conducted on Mix-and-Match Covid vaccines, i.e. taking different vaccines in the 1st and 2nd doses of Covid vaccinations, for Pfizer and AstraZeneca, it has been found that though there is increase in Headache, Feverishness and Fatigue, there is stronger Immunity as compare to taking the same vaccine for both the doses.
In his lecture, he also analysed the testing mechanisms of Cocid-19 explaining steps involved in RAT as well RT-PCR tests. He was of the opinion that there is no need for re-testing of positive cases out of RAT tests, but negative cases of RAT test should go for RT-PCR tests and the result might have been False Negative. He has mentioned that in Manipur, 45% to 67% tests are done through RAT, 25% to 40% by RT-PCR and 7% to 9% by TrueNAT/CBNAAT.
In the concluding part of the lecture, he has suggested that RT-PCR facility should be set up in all the districts, results of RT-PCR tests should be given within 24 hours, weekly quality control of the labs should be done to avoid chances of contamination, mass testing and mass vaccination at the earliest should be done and there should be deliberate isolation of covid-positive persons in the state.
Answering the questions, he said that it is quite difficult task to develop a common antigen to protect from any kind of SARS-Cov 2 variants. As studies have not been done in India for combined use of Covaxin and Covishield, it is not advisable to take different vaccines in 1st and 2nd doses. He also mentioned that taking of 3rd dose with a different and newly developed vaccine may be the only solution to protect from the Covid-19 variants.
The third Virtual Series of National Talks has been concluded with the speaker answering satisfactorily the questions put up by the participants and thanking Prof. Lisam Shanjukumar Singh for sharing his in-depth knowledge and information on the topic by the Moderator and Convenor. Convenor, Dr. Laishram Santosh Singh also requested all the participants to take part in the next session to be held on 2nd June, 2021 at 11 am., on the topic “Stress Management during Pandemic” by Dr. R.K Lenin.