Maharashtra Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday asked Thane district authorities and local civic officials to keep hospital facilities ready and ensure strict adherence among people to COVID-19 protocols in view of the emergence of a new variant of the infection.
The new B.1.1.529 variant detected in the southern part of Africa, which has now been named Omicron by the World Health Organisation, has been classified as a 'Variant of Concern' due to its reported high transmissibility.
Shinde, during the meeting held through video conferencing, said the Maharashtra government was prepared to tackle any eventuality, and directed officials to carry out audits of COVID-19 hospitals and other facilities to ensure preparedness against any spike is at its optimum.
The minister said some of the treatment facilities shut due to a fall in case numbers must be kept ready for reopening as soon the need arises, district officials said.
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.