BA.2 still dominant variant leading to breakthrough infections: Health Ministry official

Abhishek Law | | Updated on: Jul 06, 2022

India reduces gap between dose 2 and precautionary dose to 6 months

While the BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant continues to be a dominant variant causing breakthough infections, India has two found two more sub-lineages – BA.3 and BA.4 . However, they have not yet caused any significant spike in infections as is evident from the data reviewed by Insacog, a senior Union Health Ministry Official told BusinessLine.

In order to push for increased coverage of its precautionary doses, the Ministry, on Wednesday, announced reduction in the gap between the second and third (booster) dose to 6 months or 26 weeks, in place of the previous 9 months or 39 weeks for all aged between 18 and 59 years.

A review meeting will also be held on Friday, where India’s Covid genome sequencing facility, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (popularly called INSACOG), will review data once again to see the presence of sub-lineages of Omicron. Sewer surveillance study will also be taken up at the meeting.

INSACOG is jointly initiated by the Union Health Ministry of Health and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

“Right now, sub-lineages BA.3 or BA.4 are present in the nascent stage. They are not causing the same level of infections that they caused in Europe or in the US. But it does not mean we put our guards down. The spread of these sub-lineages and recombinant variants also need to be studies,” the health ministry official said.

The official added that in India, the dominant variant continues to be the BA.2, one and “no variant of concern is yet to be detected from the samples collected”.

“A review of the sewerage surveillance data will also be carried out,” he said.

India, on Wednesday, reported,16,159 new Coronavirus infections on a 24-hour basis. Active cases increased by 737, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. There fatality count was 28, while recovery rate was recorded at 98.53 per cent.

Vaccines for 12 -18 year olds

Meanwhile, the Ministry has also taken note of the slow pace of double vaccination among 12-18-year-olds. It has also expressed concern in internal meetings on the slowdown in administering of precautionary dose or booster shots of vaccines.

According to the official, around 30-40 per cent of those in the 12-18 age group has been double vaccinated, and this “number needs to pick up”.

In Friday’s meeting, discussions on vaccination for those below the age of 12 could come up, although “the immediate focus is to speed up administering of vaccines for those in the 12-18 group and also ramping up precautionary doses”.

Published on July 06, 2022
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