Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will review the ongoing COVID-19 situation in five states at 3 pm on January 29. The Union minister will discuss the coronavirus-related situation, public health preparedness and response measures being taken to tackle the spread of omicron variant in Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh in the meeting, reported news agency ANI.
Earlier this week, the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INSACOG) said that Omicron is in the community transmission stage in India. It has become dominant in multiple metro cities where new cases have been rising exponentially, with BA.2 lineage, an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, found in a substantial fraction in the country, INSACOG said.
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On January 28, Mandaviya conducted a high-level meeting with eight states and union territories (UTs). In the meeting with health ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, he highlighted the role that teleconsultation has played to serve the people in far-off places as well as COVID-19 patients in home isolation, and asked them to focus more on such services for better public health management.
He also underlined the importance of sturdy and resilient health infrastructure and the ECRP-II package under which the funds have been provided to states and UTs and said they need to be utilised before March 31. While some states have expedited effective utilisation of the approved funds for health infra creation, other states may also review the physical and financial progress under ECRP-II and expedite the progress, he said.
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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.
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The Union minister reiterated that the five-fold strategy of 'Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate and Adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour' along with effective surveillance of cases remains crucial for COVID-19 management. The states and UTs were advised to keep a close watch on the emerging clusters and hotspots.
Earlier this week, he interacted with health ministers, senior bureaucrats and administrators of nine states and union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, Ladakh and Uttar Pradesh. In the meeting, he urged them to adopt the hub and spoke model and open additional teleconsultation centres.
He said the government's eSanjeevani telemedicine system has provided services to more than 2.6 crore beneficiaries where people can seek medical advice from the confines of their homes.