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New coronavirus strain: Delhi govt orders setting up of isolation facilities at 4 private hospitals

India suspended all flights coming from the UK from the midnight of December 23 till January 7 following the detection of the mutated strain of the SARS-CoV-2 in that country.

December 31, 2020 / 07:45 AM IST
Healthcare sector | Healthcare is the epicenter during this unprecedented global pandemic. Lack of medical investment and healthcare infrastructure are the biggest challenge for an effective response in India in a battle against the novel pandemic. Amid the rising cases lack of healthcare facilities like shortage of beds, lack of protection equipment. According to a survey conducted by LocalCircles, which included responses from over 17,000 individuals located in over 211 districts of the country, only 4 percent patients who needed an ICU bed were able to find one by going through the routine process while 78 percent are forced to use connections, clout to secure an ICU bed. (Image: Reuters)

Healthcare sector | Healthcare is the epicenter during this unprecedented global pandemic. Lack of medical investment and healthcare infrastructure are the biggest challenge for an effective response in India in a battle against the novel pandemic. Amid the rising cases lack of healthcare facilities like shortage of beds, lack of protection equipment. According to a survey conducted by LocalCircles, which included responses from over 17,000 individuals located in over 211 districts of the country, only 4 percent patients who needed an ICU bed were able to find one by going through the routine process while 78 percent are forced to use connections, clout to secure an ICU bed. (Image: Reuters)

The Delhi government on Wednesday ordered setting up of isolation facilities at four private hospitals for those who travelled from or transited through the UK between November 25 and December 24 and tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus.

India suspended all flights coming from the UK from the midnight of December 23 till January 7 following the detection of the mutated strain of the SARS-CoV-2 in that country.

Authorities at Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital, Saket; Batra Hospital and Research Centre, Tughlakabad Institutional Area; Fortis Super Specialty Hospital, Vasant Kunj, and Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital were directed to set up separate isolation units for such passengers on payment basis with immediate effect and follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Union Health Ministry.

According to the SOP, state governments have to ensure that all passengers travelling from or transiting through airports in the UK and disembarking in India would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival.

In case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike gene-based RT-PCR test should also be performed by an appropriate laboratory.

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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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Passengers testing positive should be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective state health authority, the SOP states.

Specific facilities will be earmarked for such isolation and treatment, it said.

Samples of all positive patients are to be compulsorily sent by the institutional isolation facility for Genome Testing to either National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, or any other appropriate lab for genomic sequencing.

If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current SARS-CoV-2 virus genome circulating in the country, the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation or treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed, the SOP states.

However, if the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit.

The World Health Organisation has said that the mutant strain of the virus, with a 70 per cent higher rate of transmission, may already be present in several countries, although it was "unlikely that a couple of mutations" could affect the immune system''s response to an existing vaccine.

The presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore so far.
PTI
first published: Dec 31, 2020 08:02 am

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