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Four cases of Covid variant driving China surge detected in India; govt directs random testing of foreign… – Moneycontrol

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Omicron’s BF.7, the COVID-19 variant which is said to be driving the fresh surge of infections in China, has been detected in India, the Union health ministry sources said on December 21. At least four cases linked to the new variant have been confirmed, they said.
A top official in the health ministry said that out of the four cases, one was detected in July, two were in September and the other one was recorded in November.
Three of those cases were reported in Gujarat, whereas, one was recorded in Odisha, the sources added.
In view of the rising threat, the health ministry has called for the random testing of international passengers at Delhi airport, the persons privy to the development said.
BF.7, technically known as BA.5.2.1.7, is currently the fastest spreading COVID-19 variant, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
COVID-19 Vaccine
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
China, where BF.7 is the dominant variant, reported 3,101 new symptomatic cases on December 20. The country’s tally of active infections has crossed 386,000, as per the numbers shared by the state media.
Reports, however, noted that the actual tally of infections could be higher than what is being reported by the Chinese government. Officially, the country recorded five deaths linked to COVID-19 on December 17, followed by two more fatalities on December 18.
‘Not over yet’
“COVID-19 is not over yet,” India’s Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted on December 21, after holding a meeting with senior officials to review the situation. “I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation”.
The minister directed officials to isolate the current SARS-CoV-2 virus in circulation in the country and check if the existing vaccines are effective against it.
This comes a day after Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to all states saying that in view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States, South Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.
“Such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures for the same,” Bhushan wrote.
Sources, meanwhile said that in the meeting chaired by Mandaviya, it was also decided that a new advisory will be issued related to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations even though no decision has been taken yet on recommending any travel restrictions from China.
The minister also instructed that there should be no backlog of COVID-19 samplings and there should be a three pronged approach of genomic surveillance including sampling at the point of entries into the country, sewage sampling and sampling from the communities.
A fresh impetus will also be given on raising the booster COVID-19 vaccine coverage among the adults which currently stands at a mere 28 percent, it was decided.
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