Even after COVID-19 vaccine availability, masks here to stay: India’s health research body chief

The head of India’s top health research body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava has said health protocols to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will stay for a long time and people will have to keep wearing masks even after a vaccine is available.

“Even after the vaccine is brought, the use of mask will stay to prevent COVID-19. It works like a vaccine. So it may have to be used for a long time,” Bhargava was quoted as having said while speaking at a webinar titled Changing paradigms in COVID-19 management at Lucknow’s King George Medical University on Saturday.

He said masks play an important role in keeping people safe especially those who have recovered from the infection.

“Mask is like a fabric vaccine. We can not ignore the contribution made by masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19. We are working on vaccines, five candidates are undergoing trial in India. Out of these, two are being developed by India while three are from abroad. But vaccines won’t be enough to end COVID-19. We will have to keep following health and safety protocols,” he said.

India is still in the grip of COVID-19 pandemic. On Sunday morning the federal health ministry said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 9,392,919 and the death toll has risen to 136,696.

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