Italy on Sunday extended an entry ban for people coming from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as a continued precaution against the more transmissible variant found in India.
The ban, which does not apply to Italian citizens, was introduced in late April and was due to expire on Sunday. It was prolonged until June 21, a spokesman for Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.
The B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus was first detected in India last year and has been blamed for much of a devastating Covid-19 wave that has battered South Asian nations in recent weeks.
This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the variant has officially spread to 53 territories, and has been linked to seven other territories by unofficial sources, taking the total to 60.
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.
In an interview with AFP, WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said the increased contagiousness of the new variants of the coronavirus, including the Indian one, was one of his main worries.
"We know for example that the B.1617 is more transmissible than the B.117 (British variant), which already was more transmissible than the previous strain," the Belgian doctor said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.