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Omicron Coronavirus Highlights: Serum Institute’s Covovax vaccine gets WHO nod

Warning against lowering the guard to prevent the disease, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said, "This is the time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and it is very important to observe low-intensity festivities."

By: Express Web Desk
Updated: December 18, 2021 9:38:29 am
Beneficiaries getting vaccinated. Some countries that have below-average vaccination rates are using most of the vaccine doses they have on hand, and some are not. Most countries with high vaccination rates have used most of the doses delivered to them. (PTI Photo)

World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved Covid-19 vaccine Covovax, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), for emergency use. Sharing the information on Friday, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said, “This is yet another milestone in our fight against Covid-19, Covovax is now WHO approved for emergency use, showing excellent safety and efficacy. Thank you all for a great collaboration.”

Covovax is SII’s version of NVX-CoV2373, the protein-based Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, headquartered in USA. Like several other Covid-19 vaccines, Covovax targets the spike protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus — the protein that allows the virus to penetrate the human cell. Once launched, the vaccine will be available to be administered to beneficiaries starting from as young as three-year olds.

The Health Ministry on Friday said 101 cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 infection have been recorded across 11 states so far. Briefing the media, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal said, “Omicron variant reported in 91 countries in the world. WHO has said that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low. It’s likely Omicron will outpace Delta variant where community transmission occurs, WHO added.”

Warning against lowering the guard to prevent the disease, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said, “This is the time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and it is very important to observe low-intensity festivities.”

Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said that the national capital has logged 10 new Omicron cases, taking the total tally in the city to 20. Of this, 10 people have been discharged, he said.

India logged 7,447 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 3,47,26,049, while the active cases declined to 86,415, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll climbed to 4,76,869 with 391 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am. A decline of 830 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.

Live Blog

Omicron Coronavirus India LIVE: India records 7,447 Covid-19 cases; Delhi logs 10 new cases of Omicron; Follow live updates here.

21:08 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Vadodara reports two Omicron cases

Vadodara city on Friday reported two Covid19 cases of Omicron variant -- the first in the city since the outbreak of the new strain. According to the health department, two senior citizen travellers from Zambia, which is a non-risk country, tested positive for the Omicron strain in the Genome Sequence. 

The travellers had arrived in India from Zambia on December 7 and had been under self-monitoring at home as per the prevalent guideline, officials said. While one positive patient is a female of 67 years, the second is a 75-year-old male from the Fatehpura area of the city. 

"The two underwent a routine RTPCR test at the insistence of their relatives and were found to be positive on December 12. As a precautionary measure, even in a non-high risk country, we have isolated at home and sent a sample for Genome Sequence at GBRC, Gandinagar. The Omicron variant report arrived on Friday and was positive for the genome B.1.1.529. All primary close contacts have been traced and testing is underway," said Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) Medical officer for Health Dr Devesh Patel. --ENS

20:31 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Serum Institute’s Covovax vaccine gets WHO nod

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved Covid-19 vaccine Covovax, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), for emergency use. Sharing the information, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said, “This is yet another milestone in our fight against Covid-19, Covovax is now WHO approved for emergency use, showing excellent safety and efficacy. Thank you all for a great collaboration.”

19:10 (IST)17 Dec 2021
28 from overseas detected with S-gene drop fuel suspicion of Omicron: TN Health Minister

As many as 28 people who arrived from both 'high-risk' and 'non-risk' countries till date have tested Covid-19 positive along with S-gene drop, raising the suspicion of being infected by Omicron, Tamil Nadu Minister Ma Subramanian said on Friday. The Minister for Medical and Family Welfare said the samples of the 28 passengers have been sent for genomic sequencing analysis. Talking to reporters, here, Subramanian said he would seek the Centre's approval to hold mandatory RT-PCR testing on passengers arriving from 'non-risk' countries on completion of their seven-day home quarantine. --PTI

16:48 (IST)17 Dec 2021
'WHO said Omicron likely to outpace Delta variant in case of community transmission'

The Health Ministry on Friday said 101 cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 infection have been recorded across 11 states so far. Briefing the media, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal said, “Omicron variant reported in 91 countries in the world. WHO has said that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low. It’s likely Omicron will outpace Delta variant where community transmission occurs, WHO added.”

Warning against lowering the guard to prevent the disease, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said, “This is the time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and it is very important to observe low-intensity festivities.”

16:14 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Pointers from Health Ministry presser

  • New daily cases were recorded below 10,000 for the past 20 days.
  • The case positivity for the last 1 week was 0.65%.
  • Currently, Kerala contributes 40.31% to the total number of active cases in the country.
  • India is administering Covid-19 vaccine doses at the highest rate in the world.
  • The daily rate of doses administered is 4.8 times the rate of doses administered in the USA and 12.5 times the rate of doses administered in the UK.

15:09 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Three passengers from UK test COVID-19 positive in Goa, samples sent for genome sequencing

Three passengers, who arrived in Goa from the United Kingdom on Friday morning, tested positive for coronavirus and their samples were sent for genome sequencing to know whether they are infected with the Omicron variant, a state minister said. In a tweet, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Friday said, "Three patients tested positive from a flight that arrived today morning from the UK. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing, reports awaited." These three passengers arrived in the state in the 101st flight under the government's Vande Bharat Mission from London's Heathrow Airport, the Goa airport authorities said.  --PTI

15:01 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Three Omicron patients in Jamnagar recover from COVID-19 infection, discharged

A Zimbabwe-based NRI man, his wife and brother-in-law, who had contracted the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Jamnagar city of Gujarat earlier this month, have now tested negative for the infection, PTI reported. They have been given discharge from the hospital. They were the first three patients of Omicron variant in Gujarat, which later reported two more cases in Surat and in Mehsana. "All the three Omicron patients have recovered from the infection. Their latest COVID-19 tests gave negative results, following which the trio was given discharge from the hospital. The Omicron ward is now empty," said Dr Saugata Chatterjee, nodal officer for Covid-19 at the government-run G G Hospital in Jamnagar city.

12:52 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Delhi logs 10 new cases of Omicron, total reaches 20: Jain

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday said 10 new cases of the new Covid variant Omicron have been detected in the national capital, taking the tally to 20. Ten of these patients have been discharged, he said.

The minister said 10 out of the 40 samples sent for genome sequencing tested positive for the new variant. The minister had on Thursday said many international travellers are turning out Covid positive upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. (PTI)

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11:47 (IST)17 Dec 2021
CDC launches pilot to give some travelers free Covid-19 test kits

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has started distributing free Covid-19 home test kits to international travelers, the agency said Thursday.The CDC said it began distributing the kits Wednesday and is giving them out at Minneapolis-St Paul, Miami and Chicago O'Hare and will soon add Dallas-Fort Worth. It plans to add four additional unidentified international airports in the coming weeks.

The CDC encourages — but does not mandate — international air travelers to get a new Covid-19 test upon arriving in the United States.New rules took effect on Dec. 6 to require nearly all people flying to the United States to obtain a negative Covid-19 test within one day of travel. (Reuters)

11:44 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Three passengers from UK test Covid-19 positive in Goa, samples sent for genome sequencing

Three passengers, who arrived in Goa from the United Kingdom on Friday morning, tested positive for coronavirus and their samples were sent for genome sequencing to know whether they are infected with the Omicron variant, a state minister said.

In a tweet, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Friday said, "Three patients tested positive from a flight that arrived today morning from the UK. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing, reports awaited." These three passengers arrived in the state in the 101st flight under the government's Vande Bharat Mission from London's Heathrow Airport, the Goa airport authorities said. (PTI)

10:36 (IST)17 Dec 2021
A winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated, says Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden warned on Thursday that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is going to spread more rapidly in the United States and that a winter of severe illness and death awaits the unvaccinated.

Getting an update on the pandemic from top health advisers, Biden also said it is past time for people to get booster shots and urged them to do so as quickly as possible.

“We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated, Biden said. At least 36 states have reported confirmed Omicron cases, officials from the Centers for Disease Control said on Wednesday.

10:29 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Australia's New South Wales sets daily Covid case record

The premier of Australia's most populous state said he is not considering lockdowns or other restrictions as a record 2,213 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Friday, the highest number since the pandemic began.

The new peak followed the 1,742 cases reported in New South Wales state on Thursday, which had topped the previous record set in September. One new death was reported Friday and 215 people were in the hospital, well below the peak of 1,266 in September. (AP)

10:29 (IST)17 Dec 2021
Quebec orders shops, bars, restaurants to operate at 50%

Bars, restaurants, stores and entertainment venues across the Canadian province of Quebec will be required to operate at 50% capacity beginning Monday because of a surge in coronavirus cases from the new omicron variant. 

The rule was were announced Thursday by Quebec Premier Francois Legault as part of a series of new pandemic restrictions after forecasts that hospitals in the province could reach capacity for Covid-19 patients within weeks. 

Quebec reported 2,736 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours — the highest daily number since Jan. 8. Legault said health officials expect to announce 3,700 new infections Friday. (AP)

21:30 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Karnataka records five more cases of Omicron

Five more cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 were detected in Karnataka on Thursday, state Health Minister K Sudhakar said. Out of them, three have foreign travel history –UK, Nigeria and South Africa– while two have returned from Delhi recently. These new additions have taken the total number of Omicron cases in Karnataka to 8 now.

21:29 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Four more test positive for Omicron in Hyderabad

Four more people have tested positive for Omicron variant Hyderabad, taking the total number of the variant cases to 7 in Telangana, as per the health department.

16:55 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Omicron infects 70 times faster but may cause less severe disease: study

The Omicron variant of coronavirus infects and multiplies 70 times faster than Delta and the original COVID-19 strain, but the severity of illness is likely to be much lower, according to a study. The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study provides the first information on how the novel variant of concern infects human respiratory tract. More details here.

15:47 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Gujarat: Fully vaccinated woman with no travel history tests positive 

A fully vaccinated woman with no travel history tested positive for the new coronavirus variant in Gujarat's Mehsana district. According to Mehsana chief district health officer, Dr Vishnu Patel, the woman is asymptomatic and stable.

14:28 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Puducherry relaxes Covid-19 curbs for Christmas, New Year celebrations

The Puducherry government has relaxed curbs for Christmas and New Year celebrations despite extending the lockdown till January 2.

In an order issued on Wednesday, it stated that the night curfew, which will be in place from December 15 to January 2, has been relaxed on December 24 and 25 for Christmas celebrations. On December 30, 31, January 1 and 2, its timing will be from 2 am till 5 am. Night curfew usually comes into effect at 11 pm and is in place till 5 am.

Social and cultural gatherings have also been permitted during the aforesaid period, but people have been asked to adhere to all Covid-19 norms. Read more

13:33 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Omicron tracker: Study finds protection increases with booster shots; record Covid cases in UK

None of the three approved Covid-19 vaccines in the United States — Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson — offer sufficient protection against the Omicron variant with their routine doses, but the protection does increase with booster shots, a new study has found. 

The study, conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard and MIT, found “low to absent” antibody neutralisation of the Omicron variant with the routine doses, Reuters reported. The study, however, found that people who had received booster doses showed potent neutralisation.

Meanwhile, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned of difficult times ahead for the country, which has been experiencing the fastest spread of the Omicron variant. Read more

12:38 (IST)16 Dec 2021
Wuhan lab leak more likely origin of Covid-19, UK Parliament panel told

A Canadian molecular biologist, on Wednesday, told cross-party members of Parliament (MPs) on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan region of China is now the more likely origin of the Covid-19 global pandemic. 

Dr Alina Chan, specialising in gene therapy and cell engineering and co-author of ‘Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19’, told the Parliament panel’s evidence session on scientific research that the pandemic was being caused by the unique feature of the coronavirus called furin cleavage site, which has been linked to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

Asked by the panel about the probability of a lab leak as the origin of the pandemic, Chan said a lab origin is more likely than natural origin at this point. Read more

Earlier today, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that four more cases of Omicron have been detected in the national capital, taking the city's count to 10.  Jain said there are currently 40 people, who are suspected cases of the variant, admitted to Lok Nayak Hospital, of whom 38 are Covid-19 positive. “None of the cases have displayed any severe symptoms till now," he said.

Meanwhile, India on Thursday recorded 7,974 Covid-19 cases and 343 deaths. With 7,948 recoveries, the active cases in the country stood at 87,245.

Covid shot for kids above 3 years will be ready in 6 months: Adar Poonawalla

With the opening of schools across the country underscoring the need for the Covid vaccination drive to cover children, Covishield manufacturer Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said Tuesday that SII is

 

 to launch a vaccine for those below the age of 18 “all the way down to the age of three” within the next six months.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvic6EUBQ-w]

Speaking at the 27th CII Partnership Summit 2021 during a virtual conference, Poonawalla said the vaccine, Covovax, is under trial.

“We are going to be launching a vaccine in six months for children all the way down to the age of three… At the moment, Covishield is not recommended or approved in people below the age of 18 so that’s why Covovax is under trials and has shown excellent data all the way down to the age group of 3,” he said.

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First published on: 15-12-2021 at 08:42:35 am
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