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Health minister stresses on surveillance and genome sequencing as COVID-19 cases mount

The review meeting came on a day India reported 13,313 new infections in a day and active cases went past 83,000

June 23, 2022 / 07:26 PM IST
Representative image.

Representative image.

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, on June 23, chaired a high level meeting to review status of COVID-19 in the country and directed officials to focus on surveillance and genome sequencing, apart from monitoring hospitalization.

He also urged for ramping up testing and accelerating COVID-19 vaccination of eligible population.

The meeting entailed a detailed discussion on global scenario of surge in COVID-19 cases and status of infection in the country.

This included presentation and analysis of trend of COVID-19 cases, daily and active cases, positivity and deaths, testing status along with state-wise weekly tests per million, RT-PCR share in weekly tests, genome sequencing apart from vaccination status.

Also read: Blood test that can detect breast cancer, available in India now

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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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Mandaviya stressed on the need to focus on districts reporting high case positivity and undertake adequate testing with higher proportion of RT-PCR and effective COVID-19 surveillance to assess and control the spread of infection in a timely manner.

He instructed the officials to continue to focus on surveillance and on whole genome sequencing to scan for any possible mutation and keeping a close watch on hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and severe acute respiratory syndrome and influenza-like illnesses.

The minister has been asking states to increase pace of vaccination including booster doses in districts reporting high cases.

“As there is adequate vaccine doses available, let there be no vaccine wastage while focusing on accelerating vaccination among the eligible and vulnerable groups”, said Mandaviya.
Sumi Sukanya Dutta
first published: Jun 23, 2022 07:26 pm
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