Tue, 17 May 2022

By Shalini BhardwajNew Delhi [India], January 19 (ANI): Emphasising that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children, children over the age of five years should get vaccinated against the disease, suggests Dr Faheem Younus, Chief of Infectious Diseases at US' University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.

Elaborating upon the importance of vaccination for Children, Dr Faheem in an exclusive interview to ANI said, "I think the current science clearly says that children over the age of five should be vaccinated, vaccinations are safe, then it becomes a question of supply and demand and infrastructure and how quickly you can roll out those vaccines and what's the level of vaccine hesitancy in your community? If you have an unlimited supply and there is no vaccine hesitancy, then yes, all the children over the age of five should be vaccinated."While answering a question on a large number of children getting infected with COVID-19 in the US, top infectious disease expert Dr Faheem Younus explained that since the Omicron variant of coronavirus tends to infect the upper respiratory tract more as compared to our lungs and lower respiratory tract, children, whose upper respiratory tract is still in a developing phase, become more prone to contract the infection.

Dr Faheem elaborated, "We are seeing more children in this phase of the pandemic, but that's not because the virus is more lethal for children. It's because overall infections are much higher. The total number has gone up. Our schools are open and our children were unvaccinated. They were the last to get vaccinated. So that is why we have seen an uptick in pediatric cases.

"Another important thing is, with Omicron, there is a belief that it tends to infect the upper respiratory tract more as compared to our lungs and lower respiratory tract. Children have anatomically their upper respiratory tract in a developing phase. So that's probably one of the reasons that we're seeing more hospitalizations. But by and large, children are still doing much better than adults and people who are elderly and immunocompromised," said Dr Faheem.

Further explaining the importance of boosters by giving an example of our body's requirement of water, Dr Faheem said, "When you drink a glass of water in the morning, you drink another glass in the afternoon you drink another glass at night, right? That one glass is not enough. It's not going to last you for months. And when you drink that second or third glass, no one says why you're drinking water again we all understand right? So similarly your immune system cannot last forever. On one shot. It needs repeated reminders, boosters, this is nothing unusual. Other vaccines also require repeated doses. So that's why it's important. If people had their vaccine 6,8,10, 12 months ago. That's like having a glass of water last week."Stating that COVID-19 booster dose is not a 'scam' by pharma companies as being termed by many, Dr Faheem said that they are the need of the hour as they tend to reduce the possibilities of death by around 90 per cent.

"I don't think it's a scam by the pharma industry as some people would like to say, I think it's its need of the hour. Now as far as how much transmission you know, it reduces the death by 90%. How much it reduces transmission is still debatable. A lot of data is still coming in. I think it will vary from person to person and situation to situation," said the top infectious disease expert.

Responding to a question on the US witnessing an unprecedented surge in Omicron cases with the mortality rate being high, he said, "There are multiple reasons for that. First of all, we have about 70 million Americans that are still unvaccinated. So of course, that's the population that is at risk. We have millions more who have not received their booster. They may have gotten vaccinated almost a year ago, and now their immunity may not be as strong or schools, businesses are fully open. The compliance with masks is negligible in some states and in some places, it's higher. So all of those factors combined with a very large population."He went on to explain, "With holidays coming, when during winters, people huddled together inside, it's a perfect recipe for surging infections, particularly when you have a variant in the community that is much more transmissible than delta. So I think that's the perfect storm, unfortunately, that we are dealing with."Dr Faheem also explained the high mortality rate from COVID-19 infections in the US and said," So mortality varies from person to person as you just hinted. If you're a 40-year-old, healthy person who's vaccinated, your mortality is going to be point 00 3 per cent or lower. But if you're a 70-year-old obese with diabetes, high blood pressure, your mortality is going to be much higher. So, all of those variations, we have to consider them and people need to understand that their own individual risk could be very high, very low. And then also the risk of people around them let's say you are that 40-year-old, young, healthy vaccinated person. Even if you get COVID you may transmit it to a family member who may not be as young and healthy. So there is some social responsibility we all have."Responding to a query on whether a person infected with the Delta variant is protected against Omicron, he said, "What we do know is that Delta does not give complete protection against Omicron because we're already seeing people who got infected with Delta and are now coming back with Omicron once again. I also think that people who get Omicron will not have complete immunity against re-infection from future variants. Every time you do get infected though, whether that's Delta whether that's Alpha, Beta, Omicron, any variant, you build up some immunity, meaning it does give you a better chance to fight with the virus in the future." (ANI)

More Baltimore News

Access More

Sign up for Baltimore News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!