The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on December 25 announced that it will send multi-disciplinary teams to 10 states that are either reporting a high number of Omicron cases or where the vaccination rate is slow.
The 10 states are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Mizoram, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Punjab, the health ministry said on Saturday.
The decision has been taken “in view of the rapid surge in cases and deaths because of COVID-19, as reported by various news channels, the state governments, and noted in internal reviews, it has been seen that the number of Omicron cases has emerged in some states”, a statement from the ministry said.
“It has also been observed that the pace of COVID-19 vaccination in these states is less than the national average. In the wake of this situation, a decision has been taken to deploy multi-disciplinary central teams to 10 identified states some of which are either reporting increasing number of Omicron and COVID-19 cases or slow vaccination pace to aid the efforts of the state and district administrations for management of COVID-19.”
These teams will be stationed in the states for three to five days, and they will work along with the state health authorities, it 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.
The teams will specifically look into areas of contact-tracing, including surveillance and containment operations, and COVID-19 testing, including sending of adequate samples from clusters to the INSACOG network for gene sequencing.
They will also look into enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour, availability of hospital beds, sufficient logistics, including ambulances, ventilators, and medical oxygen, and the vaccination progress.
The state-level central teams will assess the situation, suggest remedial actions, and submit a report every evening by 7pm on public health activities being undertaken, besides submitting the same to the state governments, the memo said.
(With PTI inputs)
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