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‘48 cases of Delta Plus variant in India’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 25, 2021

Scientists to study the effectiveness of vaccines against the variant: ICMR chief

Scientists studying SARS-CoV2 variants have been able to identify 48 cases of Delta Plus variant in 12 districts in the country, but studies are still on to ascertain the effectiveness of vaccines against the strain, which is regarded as a variant of concern (VoC).

The scientists at the National Institute of Virology in Pune, a constituent lab of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), have already been able to culture the variant, and experiments will soon begin to assess the efficacy of Covishield and Covaxin against it, said ICMR chief Balram Bhargava during a briefing on Friday.

 

There could be a concern, considering that there is already a two- to three-fold reduction in neutralising antibody levels against Delta variant against the existing vaccines. The effectiveness of these vaccines against Delta Plus will be known shortly, said Bhargava.

He said the second wave of the pandemic is not yet over in India, with 75 districts still reporting a test positivity of over 10 per cent and 92 others between 5 to 10 per cent.

According to Surjeet Singh, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, the genomic scientists who sequenced 65,000 cases have come across 21,000 VoCs so far. Today, over 80 per cent of variants belong to the Delta strain, he said.

However, the officials reiterated that public health prevention strategies do not change with the emergence of new variants. Wearing masks, keeping physical distance and other Covid-appropriate behaviour, are still the best way to beat the virus, they said, adding that efforts are going on to continuously monitor the mutations capable of vaccine escape, increased transmissibility and disease activity.

On the issue of vaccination of pregnant women, Bhargava said pregnant women can be given the vaccine. “In terms of pregnancy, the Ministry of Health has given this guideline that the vaccine can be given. We have also demonstrated from the ICMR from the Pregcovid Registry that the vaccination is useful in pregnant women and it should be given,” said Bhargava.

Vaccinating children

With regard to vaccinating children, Bhargava said it is still debatable and currently only one country (US) is vaccinating children. “Whether very small children should be given vaccination is still a question. Till such time we have more data available on vaccination of children, we will be not in a position to vaccinate children at large,” said Bhargava, adding: “We have started a small study on children between the age of 2-18 years ,and we should have the results of that by September or so.”

Positivity rate

Meanwhile, India’s weekly Covid positivity rate remained at 3 per cent, while the daily positivity rate stood at 2.98 per cent, less than 5 per cent for 18 straight days. India conducted 17,35,781 tests in the previous day, and the testing capacity has been substantially ramped-up to 39.95 crore tests so far, as per the Health Ministry.

Besides this, India administered nearly 30.79 crore vaccine doses, with 60,73,912 Covid shots given in the last 24 hours till 8:00 am.

Meanwhile, India’s weekly Covid positivity rate remained below the 5 per cent mark at 3 per cent, while the daily positivity rate stood at 2.98 per cent, less than 5 per cent for 18 straight days. India conducted 17,35,781 tests in the previous day, and the testing capacity has been substantially ramped-up to 39.95 crore tests so far, as per the Health Ministry.

Besides this, India administered nearly 30.79 crore vaccine doses, with 60,73,912 Covid shots given in the last 24 hours till 8:00 am.

Published on June 25, 2021

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