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India will see Omicron spike but infections will be mild, says South African expert

Dr Angelique Coetzee, who had first identified the Omicron variant, also said existing vaccines will definitely control the contagion but those unvaccinated are at 100 percent risk

December 25, 2021 / 04:07 PM IST
 [Representative image]

[Representative image]

India will see a surge in Omicron infections and a high positivity rate, but it will be mild in most people as is being seen in South Africa, said Dr Angelique Coetzee, who had first identified the variant.

The chairperson of the South African Medical Association also said the existing vaccines will definitely control the contagion but those unvaccinated are at “100 percent risk”.

“Existing vaccines will greatly help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant,” Coetzee said. “As we know that you would spread only about one-third if vaccinated or had the previous history of being infected by COVID, while unvaccinated people will potentially spread the virus 100 percent.”

India has so far reported 415 cases of the Omicron variant and COVID-19 curbs have since been tightened across most states, including the imposition of night curfews and limiting large gatherings.

The central government on December 25 announced that it would deploy multi-disciplinary teams to 10 states that have been reporting high intensity of infection or going slow on vaccination. The teams will be tasked to work with the respective state health authorities to pace up vaccination.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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State governments across the country have imposed various COVID-replated restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron infection during the Christmas and New Year festive season.

South Africa, on the other hand, has lifted most of the COVID protocols, including the quarantine for contacts of people confirmed with the infection. The development followed claims that the Omicron wave had passed its peak in the country.

(With PTI inputs)

Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here

Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 25, 2021 04:07 pm
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