A total of 20 people who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new coronavirus variant so far, including the six reported earlier, the government said on December 30.
The samples of all passengers who tested positive after flying from the UK are being sent to laboratories for genome sequencing. Flights from the UK to India are currently banned till January 7.
Also read: New COVID-19 strain reaches India: Does it spread easily? Vaccines won't work? Here are all your questions answered
"The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the States for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to the INSACOG labs," The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
The health ministry on December 29 said six UK returnees have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome.
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.
There is no evidence to suggest that current vaccines will fail to protect against the SARS-CoV-2 mutants reported from the UK or South Africa, the government said.
The new SARS-CoV-2 variant could be as much as 70 percent more transmissible, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. However, it is not yet known if the mutation causes a more severe version of the disease.
Many countries, such as Denmark, the US, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan have reported cases of the new coronavirus variant from the UK.