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Coronavirus vaccine still a year away, humanity may have to live with Covid-19: Virologist Ian Lipkin

India Today logo India Today 04-03-2020 India Today Web Desk

Almost three months after the first reported case of Coronavirus came to light from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the infection has reached India. The first three cases of Covid-19 in India were diagnosed in Kerala where these patients were treated and discharged in January of this year.

Also watch: State-level task force constituted to control Covid-19 situation: Delhi CM (Video by The Times of India)

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One of the world's most renowned virologists, Dr W Ian Lipkin spoke to India Today about the Covid-19 outbreak. The John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, Dr Lipkin imposed a self-quarantine of two weeks on himself after a work-related trip to China last year. With 30 years of experience in diagnostics and outbreak response, he is also a Director for the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health.

A passenger wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, interacts with her relatives upon her arrival at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad on March 4. © SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images A passenger wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, interacts with her relatives upon her arrival at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad on March 4.

Large proportion of world population will be infected

This virus is one of the most transmissible diseases and we still do not know the full measure of those infected because the symptoms are either mild or non-existent, said Dr Lipkin. He also expressed his belief that a large proportion of the world population will be infected with the coronavirus much like the seasonal flu that affects 250,000 600,000 people each year.

Dr Ian Lipkin says, Antibody is the only way to test the scope of people infected with the virus. I do not know if there will be an end to it but we may have to live with it as we do with other diseases such as measles. This virus could return next season. Hopefully, we will have a vaccine by then. A vaccine is about a year away.

Isolate yourself if you are ill

Advising people on how to deal with the outbreak, Dr Ian Lipkin said, If you think you are ill, you will have to isolate yourself. We need everyone to work on this fight. He further added that viruses are always evolving, mutating and adapting to the environment. Dr Lipkin added, There are some viruses that kill like Ebola and some like Herpes that do not. This one has not yet settled on its niche. He asked people to wear gloves while using public transport.

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Not panic, caution and concern is the right response

Dr Ian Lipkin believes that the mortality rate of Covid-19 will settle at less than 1 per cent. While stating that caution and concern is the right response and not panic, Dr Lipkin also says, We will not lose to this infection.

Follow the government's latest travel advice if you are planning a trip outside India or travelling back to India from affected areas. You can also read World Health Organization's advice on basic protective measures against the virus. The Ministry of Health's special helpline is available at +91-11-23978046 and ncov2019@gmail.com.

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