Vaccinating those with weak immunity could avert mutations
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Mutations of the virus that causes Covid-19 have been seen mostly in immune compromised patients with persistent infection. In an article top US scientists argue that heightened precautions should be taken to avert the transmission of Covid-19 to immune-compromised patients in hospitals to reduce this risk. “Such patients should be prioritised for immunisation not only to protect them from SARSCoV-2 but also to mitigate persistent SARS-CoV-2 infections,” the article adds.

It states that immunocompromised patients with Covid-19 should be informed about the importance of self-isolation until viral shedding is documented to be negative. "Household and close contacts of such patients should be vaccinated regardless of age, since asymptomatic infection with these escape variants among healthy contacts may facilitate community spread of new transmissible variants," say scientists.

The warning comes at a time when the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic has engulfed many countries due to the spread of the Delta variant, a strain that was first identified in India in December. There have been few studies in India to identify and confirm the evolution of the coronavirus in immune-compromised patients. But doctors say they have also seen many Covid-19 patients who continued to test positive for the infection for months.

"There are two to three patients admitted in our hospital currently who continue to be positive for two months. All of them are immune-compromised due to previous history of illnesses such tuberculosis and HIV. Vaccinating such patients on priority would protect them from the infection and also reduce the risk of mutations," Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital, said.

According to Dr Rajesh Malhotra, chief of AIIMS Trauma Centre, which is a designated centre for Covid management, they have had more than 50 patients with chronic kidney failure who persisted with the virus for more than three months, especially during the first wave. "We had to keep them hospitalised till they turned negative though they were stable otherwise because there were hardly any centres doing dialysis for Covidpositive patients outside a hospital setting," he said.