Policy

Vaccines have blunted severity of Covid: Health Ministry

Our Bureau | Updated on: Jan 20, 2022
The booster dose vaccination for health and frontline workers and those above 60 years of age in progress at Madurai Medical College campus on Thursday. Ashok R / The Hindu

The booster dose vaccination for health and frontline workers and those above 60 years of age in progress at Madurai Medical College campus on Thursday. Ashok R / The Hindu | Photo Credit: ASHOK R

DCGI yet to take a call on full market authorisation to Covaxin and Covishield

Vaccinations have helped keep deaths to about a tenth of what was witnessed in the second wave in mid-2021. And this comes even as daily new cases near the peak-levels of the second wave, Union Health Ministry officials said.

During the peak of the second wave on April 30, 2021, there were 3,86,452 new cases in a day with 3,059 deaths and 31,70,228 active cases, said Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan during the weekly media briefing. However, in the current third wave, 3,17,532 new cases were recorded in a day with deaths over 380, while active cases stood at 19,24,051.

Further, he pointed out that during the peak of the second wave, only 2 per cent of those eligible were fully vaccinated between April 1 and 30, 2021. This now stands at about 72 per cent.

“This comparision shows two major aspects. First, during the third wave, we have significantly lower deaths in relation to the active cases, vis-a-vis the second wave. Second is that the vaccinated population has increased significantly. So, vaccines work. It keeps the severity of the infection to mild or moderate,” he said, appealing people to complete their vaccination.

According to the latest data provided by the Health Ministry, a total of 88.07 crore people or 94 per cent of the eligible population have received the first dose, while 67.13 crore or 72 per cent people have received the second dose. The precaution dose has been administered to 61.75 lakh people. For the adolescents, total 3.84 crore doses have been given covering about 52 per cent of this age group.

The Health Ministry also said that of the total eligible population of 35 lakh healthcare workers, about 63 per cent had received their precaution dose, and of the 33 lakh eligible frontline workers who had their precaution dose due, 19.14 lakh or 58 per cent have received it.

As on Thursday morning, the country reported 9,287 Omicron cases, while daily vaccinations crossed 65 lakh by the end of day at 8.30 pm. Across the country, States were keeping a keen watch on the surge. While Maharashtra prepared to open schools by next week, Kerala is getting set for more restrictions. This is even as reports suggested that the government’s 30-plus genome sequencing lab network INSACOG had seen a handful of labs shut down.

Market approval

The recommendation by the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) to give full market authorisation to Covishield and Covaxin from its present restricted-use status, also came up at the briefing. The Drug Controller General of India still has to take a final call on this, the officials said, adding that further guidelines on how it would be available in the retail space would be outlined subsequently.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) had said that the SEC had “recommended for upgrade of Covishield and Covaxin status from restricted use in emergency situations to grant of new drug permission with conditions In adult population.” Further, it had added on Twitter, “DCGI will evaluate the recommendations and give its decision.”

The development comes after vaccine makers i.e. Covishield maker Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech had applied for market approval for their respective COVID-19 vaccines.

Published on January 20, 2022
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