In the recent episode of Jagran Dialogues, Jagran New Media’s Senior Editor Pratyush Ranjan interacted with Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB).
New Delhi | Pratyush Ranjan: Amid the coronavirus pandemic and the surge in COVID-19 cases in India in recent months, through constant interaction with top doctors and medical experts, Jagran New Media is making the effort to make its readers informed and aware about the changing dimensions of the pandemic.
In the recent episode of Jagran Dialogues, Jagran New Media’s Senior Editor Pratyush Ranjan interacted with Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and co-chair at The Lancet and Financial Times Commission on Governing Health Futures. Dr Agrawal spoke in detail on Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE) and related vaccination apprehensions topping among people’s concern amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. 1 What is Antibody-Dependent Enhancement or ADE?
Dr Anurag Agrawal - The keywords here are ‘antibody’ and ‘enhancement’. Whenever there is a viral or even a bacterial attack in the body, antibodies are formed. It’s expected that antibodies will neutralise the virus. But if the virus keeps on changing itself due to which the antibodies remain unsuccessful in neutralising the virus, then antibodies create inflammation. This way the antibodies can harm the body instead. But it only happens if the virus has changed itself completely. But this has not been observed in the case of Coronavirus infection.
Q. 2 Why so?
Dr Anurag Agrawal - First of all, Coronavirus has not changed much. When we speak about variants, we are not talking about new strains. Some proteins of this virus have changed and when we test whether antibodies are working or not. We find that it’s not the case that antibodies are not working at all. They still neutralise the virus. It’s just that their effectiveness has decreased.
Q. 3 Is this Antibody-Dependent Enhancement created by a disease in the human body or there is some other process in the body to develop it?
Dr Anurag Agrawal - Let’s talk about dengue. When a person first gets infected by Dengue, the body creates natural antibodies. So when there is a second dengue infection in the body, the body can have the ADE (Antibody-Dependent Enhancement). ADE, therefore, is a natural process. That is when the body creates antibodies during the first infection, if it doesn’t work for the second time when a changed or mutated virus infects, then the person has ADE. So it’s not artificial, it’s a natural process.
Q. 4 How the antibodies developed due to an infection in the body are different from the ones developed due to a vaccine inoculation?
Dr Anurag Agrawal - When there is natural infection, there is a whole virus and antibodies are developed for the whole part of the virus. However, vaccines are of various types. There are mRNA vaccines that contain the mRNA of spike protein of virus. We have adenoviral DNA vaccine such as Covishield. You give in the DNA of spike protein inside the body. Then there is covaxin which has the complete virus, deactivated one. So these all are natural, we are in a way replicating the antibody development. Because most neutralising antibodies are against spike protein, so both work that way to give protection against virus.
Q. 5 Why more children were affected in the second COVID-19 way?
Dr Anurag Agrawal - Let's change this question. I feel this question should be were children not getting affected during the first COVID-19 wave. Whenever tests were conducted, we also found antibodies among children. However, children in the first wave were also getting infected. Earlier, children were protected because schools, colleges and other educational institutions were closed. In the second wave, children were the main source of the infection as the curbs were relaxed. If a lot of people from the younger generations gets infected, then those who are in severe conditions will get admitted and you will notice them in hospitals. Another thing could be that most of the elder people were vaccinated. However, we need a proper denominator for this which we will find only after a serosurvey.
Q. 6 What are your views about the third COVID-19 wave?
Dr Anurag Agrawal - See, this was the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Delhi. The first wave came in June-July, the second in September and a small fourth wave in November. To avoid a large wave, we need more people to get vaccinated. Apart from that, we need to follow all appropriate COVID-19 norms like practising social distancing and usage of masks.
Watch the full interview here: