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New COVID-19 Variant: No case of Omicron reported in India, says Mansukh Mandaviya

The B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 or Omicron was first detected in South Africa last week.

November 30, 2021 / 12:41 PM IST
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that no case of COVID-19 variant Omicron has been reported in India so far. (File image)

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that no case of COVID-19 variant Omicron has been reported in India so far. (File image)

India has not reported any case of new COVID-19 variant Omicron so far, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament on November 30.

The B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 or Omicron was first detected in South Africa last week. It has been designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a 'variant of concern', the health body's top category for worrying coronavirus variants.

Earlier on the day, eminent virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said that a very large number of Indians are likely to remain protected from Omicron or any other variant of COVID-19 and there is no need to panic. DR Jameel, who is the former head of the advisory group to the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INASACOG), said people must be cautious and keep wearing masks.

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the Winter Session of Parliament

The Centre on November 25 asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travelers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong, and Botswana, where the variant of serious public health implications has been reported.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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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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Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the delay in stopping flights from countries affected by Omicron. In a tweet on November 30, he requested the prime minister to ban flights from such countries.
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first published: Nov 30, 2021 12:41 pm
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