The number of COVID-19 patients infected because of the new strain of the novel coronavirus increased to 25 on December 31, according to the Union Health Ministry. Genome sequencing of five more patient test samples showed that they had been infected by the new variant of SARS-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19.
Four of these new COVID-19 cases were found by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and one was sequenced at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi.
All 25 persons remain in physical isolation at designated health facilities, the health ministry said.
There is growing concern over the new strain first reported in the United Kingdom as it is believed to be spreading faster than the previous mutations. Scientists in the UK had said that this variant of the virus is about 70 percent more infectious even though it may not necessarily cause more severe illness. The spread of the variant in the UK had led several countries, including India, to suspend scheduled flights to and from the UK.
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.
Test samples of all passengers coming from overseas, who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic, are being sent for genome sequencing as a standard procedure.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic