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COVID-19 | 25 Omicron cases reported so far in India, all patients have mild symptoms: Health Ministry

The government has said 80.98 crore people have been administered first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine which is 86.2 percent of the adult population of the country. As many as 50.21 crore people have been given second dose which is 53.5 percent of adult population.

December 10, 2021 / 08:01 PM IST
Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said all Omicron-related cases were found to have mild symptoms.

Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said all Omicron-related cases were found to have mild symptoms.

India has till December 9 reported 12 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 with all of them showing mild symptoms, the Health Ministry said amid growing concerns over the new strain of the virus. These cases have been detected in five state  – Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka, the Ministry said.

"Overall, 25 Omicron cases (are reported) in the country so far. All detected cases have mild symptoms. Less than 0.04 percent of total variants are detected," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said during a press conference on December 10.

Catch all LIVE UPDATES on Coronavirus Omicron Here 

The government also said that of the 93 positive COVID-19 cases reported since December 1, as many as 83 were from at-risk countries of which 13 were found to be positive for the Omicron variant.

"Two countries had reported Omicron cases till  November 24. Now 59 countries have reported 2,936 Omicron cases. Besides these, 78,054 probable cases are detected- their genome sequencing is underway," Agarwal said.

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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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READ: Omicron cases in India: What we know so far. 9-point guide

The government said 80.98 crore people have been administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine which is 86.2  percent of the adult population of the country. As many as 50.21 crore people have been given the second dose which is 53.5 percent of the adult population, according to the officials.

The Health Ministry officials said that regular meetings were being organised to keep a watch on the global scenario and the Indian scenario of COVID-19 with a focus on the Omicron variant. "We need help to not spread panic. District-level restrictions are to be implemented where positivity is over 5 percent," Balram Bhargava, director general of ICMR said during the conference.

On the overall COVID-19 situation, Agarwal said that last week, the country had an overall positivity rate of 0.73 percent. He said more than 43 percent of daily cases were reported from Kerala alone.

The governments said only 2 states reported more than 10,000 cases while 19 districts reported high case positivity between 5 and 10 percent. As many as 8 districts have more than 10 percent case positivity, it said.

Also, read: Omicron may pose higher reinfection risk but could be milder than Delta: WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

"Less than 10,000 cases (were reported) in last 14 days. Active cases are highest in two states- Kerala and Maharashtra with over 43 percent active cases in the former and over 10 percent in the latter," he said.

The government said compliance to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour was declining with an increase in vaccination rates.

As far as protection capability is concerned, the government said people were behaving at a risky and unacceptable level. "Mask usage is declining. We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. We should learn from the global situation," Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog, said during the conference.

The government said surveillance, effective screening, monitoring of international travellers and health infrastructure upgradation are being done. States have been notified to increase their surveillance and actively test passengers arriving from other countries, it said.
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 12 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.
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