Corona Virus Covid 19

Covaxin safe, shows 77.8% efficacy against symptomatic Covid: Lancet
Source: PTI - Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: November 12, 2021 15:53 IST

Two doses of Covaxin, India's indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, offer 77.8 per cent protection against symptomatic disease and present no serious safety concerns, according to an interim analysis of its phase 3 trial published in The Lancet on Friday.

Photograph: Prabhat Mehrotra/ANI Photo

Covaxin, an inactivated whole virus vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, recently received emergency use approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for people aged 18 and above.
The phase 3 trial findings indicate that Covaxin induces a robust antibody response with no severe vaccine-related adverse events or deaths reported among the trial participants, the authors of the study said.

The majority of the adverse events, including headache, fatigue, fever, and pain at the injection site, were mild and occurred within seven days of vaccination, they explained.
The vaccine is administered in a two-dose regimen, 28 days apart, and can be stored and transported between 2-8 degrees Celsius.
The trial took place from November 16 to May 17 this year, with participants aged 18 and older randomly assigned to receive two doses of the vaccine or a placebo.
The researchers 'recorded 24 positive cases among 8,471 people in the vaccine group and 106 positive cases among 8,502 people in the placebo group, suggesting an overall vaccine efficacy of 77.8 per cent', the authors said.

They also noted that the data is preliminary and more research with larger sample size is needed to determine efficacy against severe disease and hospitalisation.
Participants considered to be at risk of acquiring COVID-19 were prioritised with 2,750 participants above 60 years of age and 5,724 participants who reported at least one pre-existing medical condition, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or obesity, across ages.
This study was conducted with participants from diverse geographic locations across 25 hospitals in India.
The researchers conducted an efficacy analysis based on 130 laboratory-confirmed RT-PCR positive symptomatic COVID-19 among 16,973 initially seronegative participants.
These cases were recorded at least two weeks after participants had received a second dose.
The trial also found that Covaxin was well-tolerated among all trial participants, with 12 per cent of vaccine and placebo groups reporting an adverse event.
'The peer-review of Covaxin phase III clinical trial data in The Lancet, an authoritative voice in global medicine validates our commitment to data transparency and meeting the stringent peer-review standards of world-leading medical journals,' said Bharat Biotech Chairman Krishna Ella.
'The data from our product development and clinical trials have been published in 10 peer-reviewed journals, making Covaxin one of the most highly published COVID-19 vaccines in the world,' Ella said in a statement.
The study authors from Bharat Biotech and National Institute of Virology, Indian Council of Medical Research (NIV-ICMR), Pune, noted that there was no clinically or statistically significant difference in serious adverse events between groups, and no cases of vaccine-related deaths.
'I am delighted to see that the phase III efficacy data has also been published in The Lancet, one of the most reputed journals worldwide. This itself speaks high about the strong position of Covaxin amongst other global front-runners COVID-19 vaccines,' said Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava.
Analysis of immune responses induced by the vaccine showed that Covaxin produced a strong neutralising antibody response measured by the concentration of these antibodies at day 56 or one month after receiving the second dose.
A neutralising antibody defends a cell from an infectious particle by preventing any effect it has biologically.
Similar to the phase 1/2 studies, Covaxin-induced antibodies showed no significant decrease in neutralisation activity against the Alpha variant but demonstrated marginal reductions against other variants of concern, including Delta and Gamma.
Researchers conducted a preliminary analysis of efficacy against the Delta variant and found Covaxin to be 65 per cent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 infection from the variant.
They, however, cautioned that this data is preliminary and further observations are necessary to confirm clinical efficacy against Delta and other variants.
The study found no significant differences in immune responses across the broad age groups of under- and over-60-year-olds.
The oldest trial participant was 97 years old.
The authors of the study also noted several limitations of the analysis.
Due to the low number of cases reported between the first and second vaccine doses, the researchers could not calculate vaccine efficacy after a single dose.
They said the analysis included safety follow-up of an average 146 days from the first dose for all participants, adding that long-term safety follow-up of Covaxin is required and is currently underway.
The study population was limited to India and therefore lacked ethnic and racial diversity, underscoring the importance of evaluating the efficacy of Covaxin in other populations.
'The roll-out of Covaxin might ease the ultra-cold chain requirements of other SARS-CoV-2 vaccine platforms, increase the finite global manufacturing capacity, and improve insufficient supply of vaccines which disproportionately affects low-income and middle-income countries,' said Jing-Xin Li and Feng-Cai Zhu of the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China, who were not involved in the study.

'The next step for studies of Covaxin should be a focus on monitoring for epidemiological variations in SARS-CoV-2 and the long-term vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 and asymptomatic infection to identify whether the vaccine provides ongoing protection when any variant of concern has occurred,' Zhu said in a statement.

Covaxin safe, shows 77.8% efficacy against symptomatic Covid: Lancet
June - 2021

US says Covaxin successfully neutralises Delta variant
By Lalit K Jha
June 30, 2021 08:29 IST

India's Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, effectively neutralises both Alpha and Delta variants of coronavirus, the United States' National Institute of Health (NIH) has said.

IMAGE: A medic prepares to administer a dose of Covaxin to a beneficiary, at a hospital in Chennai. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo
The NIH said results of two studies of blood serum from people who had received Covaxin suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralise the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in the United Kingdom and India, respectively.
The top American health research institute, which has a history of strong scientific collaboration with India, also said that an adjuvant developed with funding from it has contributed to the success of the highly efficacious Covaxin, which has been administered to roughly 25 million people till date in India and elsewhere.
Adjuvants are substances formulated as part of a vaccine to boost immune responses and enhance a vaccine's effectiveness.
Covaxin comprises a disabled form of SARS-CoV-2 that cannot replicate but still stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the virus.

Published results from a phase 2 trial of the vaccine indicate that it is safe and well tolerated, the NIH said, adding that safety data from a phase 3 trial of Covaxin will become available later this year.
'Meanwhile, unpublished interim results from the phase 3 trial indicate that the vaccine has 78 per cent efficacy against symptomatic disease, 100 per cent efficacy against severe COVID-19, including hospitalisation, and 70 per cent efficacy against asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,' it said.
'The results from two studies of blood serum from people who had received Covaxin suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralise the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in the UK and India, respectively,' the NIH said.
Ending a global pandemic requires a global response, said Anthony S Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH.
"I am pleased that a novel vaccine adjuvant developed in the US with NIAID support is part of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine available to people in India," he said.
The adjuvant used in Covaxin, Alhydroxiquim-II, was discovered and tested in a laboratory by the biotech company ViroVax LLC of Lawrence, Kansas with support from the NIAID Adjuvant Development Program.
Alhydroxiquim-II is the first adjuvant in an authorised vaccine against an infectious disease to activate receptors TLR7 and TLR8 that play a vital role in the immune response to viruses.
In addition, the alum in Alhydroxiquim-II stimulates the immune system to search for an invading pathogen. Molecules that activate TLR receptors stimulate the immune system powerfully, but the side effects of Alhydroxiquim-II are mild, the NIH said.
According to the NIH, the NIAID Adjuvant Program has supported the research of the founder and chief executive officer of ViroVax, Sunil David, MD, PhD, since 2009.
His work has focused on searching for novel molecules that activate innate immune receptors and developing them as vaccine adjuvants.
The collaboration between Dr David and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. of Hyderabad was initiated during a 2019 meeting in India coordinated by the NIAID Office of Global Research under the auspices of NIAID's Indo-US Vaccine Action Program.
A delegation of five NIAID-funded adjuvant investigators, including Dr David; two members of the NIAID Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation; and the NIAID India representative, visited four leading biotechnology companies to learn about their work and discuss potential collaborations.
The delegation also attended a consultation in New Delhi co-organised by NIAID and India's Department of Biotechnology and hosted by India's National Institute of Immunology.
Among the scientific collaborations sparked by these activities, Bharat Biotech signed a licensing agreement with Dr David to use Alhydroxiquim-II in their candidate vaccines.
This license was expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic to include Covaxin, which has received Emergency Use Authorisation in India and more than a dozen other countries.

'The company conducted extensive safety studies of Alhydroxiquim-II and undertook the complex process of scaling up production of the adjuvant under Good Manufacturing Practice standards. Bharat Biotech expects to produce an estimated 700 million doses of Covaxin by the end of 2021,' the NIH said.
Covaxin gets nod for use in children above 12 years with riders
By Payal Banerjee
Last updated on: December 25, 2021 22:22 IST

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted emergency use authorisation to indigenously-developed Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for children above 12 years with certain conditions, official said on Saturday.

Photograph: Prateek Kumar/ANI Photo

It is the second vaccine to receive the regulator's nod for use among those below 18 years after Zydus Cadila's needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D.

The government, however, has not taken any decision on vaccinating children against COVID-19.
The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization are deliberating and considering scientific evidences related to vaccination of those in the 12-17 age group, the Centre recently informed Parliament.

The Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on October 11 after deliberating Bharat Biotech's emergency use authorisation (EUA) application had recommended granting emergency use approval to Covaxin for use in the 2-18 years age group with certain conditions.
"The recommendations of the SEC were further evaluated and examined after which DCGI had sought additional data from the firm," an official said.
The DCGI gave its approval Friday, the official said.
'... Based on the recommendations of SEC experts and submission of additional safety data, this directorate has no objection at this stage for additional indication of Whole Virion inactivated corona virus vaccine for use in age group of more than 12 years to 18 years with the dose schedule of 0 and 28 days for restricted use in emergency situation with the condition to submit SmPC, PI, Factsheet incorporating clinical information for said age group along with pharmacovigilance & risk management plan,' the DCGI approval order issued said.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, which completed the phase 2/3 trials of Covaxin for use among those aged between 2 and 18 years, had submitted the data to CDSCO for its verification and subsequent approval for emergency use authorisation EUA for the jab in the beginning of October.
It had presented its proposal for grant of market authorisation of its Whole Virion, Inactivated coronavirus Vaccine (BBV152) in the 2 to 18 years age group for restricted use in emergency situation along with the interim safety and immunogenicity data of phase 2/3 clinical trial conducted.
Reacting to the development, Bharat Biotech in a statement said, 'Covaxin is formulated uniquely such that the same dosage can be administered to adults and children. Covaxin has established a proven record for safety and efficacy in adults for the original variant and subsequent variants. We have documented excellent safety and immunogenicity data readouts in children. We look forward for Covaxin to provide similar levels of protection for adults and children alike.'

The DCGI on September 1 granted permission to Hyderabad-based Biological E Limited to conduct phase 2/3 clinical trial of its made in India COVID-19 vaccine on children and adolescents aged between 5 and 18 years with certain conditions.
In July, it had granted permission to Serum Institute of India (SII) for conducting phase 2/3 trials of Covovax on children aged 2 to 17 years with certain conditions.

Covaxin gets nod for use in children above 12 years with riders
Christmas 2021: Check state-wise restrictions for Xmas, New Year celebrations amid uptick in COVID cases
Christmas 2021:As the virus is tightening its grip in the country at a rapid rate, several states have imposed bans on Christmas celebrations in public. Here, check the list of states that imposed restrictions around Christmas in states of India

Updated: Tue, 21 Dec 2021 07:34 PM IST

Christmas 2021: Check state-wise restrictions for Xmas, New Year celebrations amid uptick in COVID cases

File pic used

New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: People celebrate the festival of Christmas on December 25 every year. As the festival of joy is on our doors, many have started preparing for the same. But, the rapid rise in cases of Omicron strain of COVID-19 is likely to hit the celebrations as amid virus fears govt in India and other parts of the world are imposing restrictions on public celebrations, parties, and gatherings of the festival.

The COVID-19 cases in India declined earlier, but after the Omicron strain of the virus was introduced, it has started surging again in the country. Till now, India has reported about 200 cases of Omicron and it also records COVID-19 cases over 5000 for the past few weeks.

As the virus is tightening its grip in the country at a rapid rate, several states have imposed bans on Christmas celebrations in public. Here, check the list of states that imposed restrictions ahead of the festival.

Here are restrictions imposed around Christmas in states of India:


The BMC in Mumbai has issued a fresh set of guidelines for curbing the spread of the virus, especially during festivals. For any Christmas party or gathering, the attendance limit is 50 percent of the capacity of confined/closed spaces, it is 25 percent of capacity in open places, while any gathering of over 1,000 people will require the prior permission of the Local Disaster Management Authority.
All hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls, and other government and private establishments in the state must only allow people who are fully vaccinated and all the citizens will have to wear masks and adhere to all the guidelines.

The state has also said that if anyone found violating COVID-19 rules will be dealt with severely by civic ward level teams as well as the police.

The state has announced that no parties or mass gatherings would be permitted in the state from late in December to early January, while they have also banned parties or events like having Disc Jockeys at clubs and restaurants. While all clubs and restaurants will carry the regular business with 50 percent occupancy.
Other than these two states no other state have imposed any particular restrictions on Christmas and New year celebrations but the existing COVID-19 guidelines in the states have been tightened. That is all the citizens will have to wear at all times, while they have to sanitize their hands at regular intervals and maintain a proper distance in public places.
Apart from India, countries like the Netherlands, UK, South Korea, US, Germany, and others have imposed restrictions ahead of the festival. While some countries have imposed partial or full lockdowns others have tightened the existing COVID-19 guidelines.

Posted By: Ashita Singh

Christmas 2021: Check state-wise restrictions for Xmas, New Year celebrations amid uptick in COVID cases
415 Omicron cases in India so far, 115 recover
Source: PTI - Edited By: Prasanna D Zore
December 25, 2021 11:58 IST

A total of 415 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have been detected in India so far, out of which 115 have recovered or migrated, according to the Union health ministry's data updated on Saturday.

IMAGE: People shopping for Christmas and New Year. Photograph: ANI Photo

Maharashtra has recorded a maximum of 108 Omicron cases, followed by Delhi at 79, Gujarat 43, Telangana 38, Kerala 37, Tamil Nadu 34 and Karnataka 31.
India's Covid tally rose to 3,47,79,815 with 7,189 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, while the active cases have declined to 77,032, according to the data updated at 8 am.

The death toll climbed to 4,79,520 with 387 more fatalities, the data showed.
The daily rise in new coronavirus cases has been recorded below 15,000 for the last 58 days now.

The active cases have declined to 77,032 comprising 0.22 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.40 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the ministry said.
A decrease of 484 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.
The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.65 per cent. It has been less than two per cent for the last 82 days.
The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.60 per cent. It has been below one per cent for the last 41 days, according to the health ministry.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,42,23,263, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.38 per cent.
The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 141.01 crore.
India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20 lakh-mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16.
It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one crore-mark on December 19.
India had crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23.
The 387 new fatalities include 342 from Kerala and 12 from Maharashtra.
Of the 342 deaths, 31 were recorded over the last few days and 311 were designated as COVID-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court, Kerala's health department had said on Friday.
A total of 4,79,520 deaths have been reported so far in the country, including 1,41,404 from Maharashtra, 46,203 from Kerala, 38,305 from Karnataka, 36,714 from Tamil Nadu, 25,103 from Delhi, 22,915 from Uttar Pradesh and 19,707 from West Bengal.

The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.
'Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,' the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

415 Omicron cases in India so far, 115 recover
Omicron may be dominant strain globally in 2022, claim Singapore experts
By Gurdip Singh
December 24, 2021 14:23 IST

The new and highly transmissible Omicron variant of the deadly coronavirus has increased immune escape compared with the Delta variant and appears likely to become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain globally in 2022, according to Singapore-based experts.

IMAGE: Police and staff members inspect the documents of a passenger at a railway station following travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Xian, Shaanxi province, China December 23, 2021. Photograph: Reuters

The World Health Organisation has called for the world to pull together to end the COVID-19 pandemic next year.

"2022 must be the year we end the pandemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva on Monday.
But Singapore-based experts said much depends on how potent the Omicron variant is and asserted that it was 'futile' to try and predict when the pandemic will end.
"It appears likely that Omicron will become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain globally in 2022," public health expert associate professor Natasha Howard said, adding that the Omicron variant is more transmissible and has 'increased immune escape' compared with the Delta strain.

The rise of the more transmissible variant, increased case numbers and hospitalisations are likely, said Howard, the interdisciplinary health policy and systems researcher from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in Singapore.
"The implications of this are still unclear, but it shows that the pandemic is not controlled yet and until initial and booster COVID-19 vaccine doses are accessible to everyone eligible globally, we can expect new variants to emerge," she warned.
For the Singapore population, it is clear that two COVID-19 vaccine doses are not enough to provide reasonable protection against Omicron and people should get booster shots as soon as they are eligible, she said.
Citing Imperial College modelling data, she said that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is more than five times higher and it does not appear milder than the Delta variant.
Omicron will likely be the cause of a 'significant wave' of COVID-19, said associate professor Ashley St John from the Duke-NUS Medical School's Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme.
"But while the Omicron variant is more transmissible than most we have seen, it is still SARS-CoV-2," she said.
"The genetic backbone of Omicron is very, very different. However, we don't yet have consistent data whether those genetic differences result in increased severity," the professor explained.
Public health experts are thus monitoring the data on severity for Omicron and are waiting for more concrete numbers to bolster the initial assessment that vaccines are efficacious against it, she said.
Dr Lim Wee Kiat, associate director at the Singapore Management University's centre for management practice, said it was 'futile' to try and predict when the pandemic will end.
After all, the 1918 flu pandemic never really ended, according to the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, descendants of the influenza virus from more than a century ago still circulate today, Lim Wee said.
"The path to normalcy is going to be punctuated by twists and dead ends, even reversals, as we have seen here in Singapore and elsewhere," the Channel quoted Dr Lim, a disaster sociologist by training, as saying.
And while Omicron may further delay the roll-out of the Singapore government's COVID-19 endemic roadmap, the city state's experience in managing the pandemic over the past two years is a plus.
"Our experience in managing the pandemic over the past two years means that we are unlikely to revert to a 'circuit-breaker' type situation, which will only serve as a last resort given Singapore's endemic goal, especially since most of the population has been vaccinated," said Nydia Ngiow, Singapore managing director of strategic advisory firm Bowyer Group Asia.

Meanwhile, Singapore reported 322 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, of which 89 are imported or those who arrived here. There are also two fatalities, taking the country's death toll from coronavirus complications to 820 deaths.
As of Thursday, Singapore has recorded 277,042 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Omicron may be dominant strain globally in 2022, claim Singapore experts
Covishield booster works against Omicron
By Sohini Das
December 24, 2021 14:07 IST

If the vaccine is recommended for use as a booster against Omicron, it may significantly boost the demand for Covishield in India.

IMAGE: Vials of the Covishield vaccine at a vaccination point in Bengaluru. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

A third booster shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria significantly boosts antibody levels against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, claimed the British drug major.
This brightens the scope for Serum Institute of India which makes Covishield, the Indian version of the Vaxzevria.
Experts are of the opinion that mixing vaccine shots may give better results to boost immunity. However, the University of Oxford has supported the use of Vaxzevria as a third booster dose against Omicron.
Serum Institute is sitting on 500 million doses of Covishield (half of which is in bulk drug form), and has cut production by half owing to low demand.

If the vaccine is recommended for use as a booster against Omicron, it may significantly boost the demand for Covishield in India.
An Indian expert group on vaccination policy is yet to take a call on whether and when to allow Covid booster shots.
Vaxzevria was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech.
It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein.
After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
'Neutralisation titres for Omicron were boosted following a third dose with Vaxzevria compared to titres after a second dose,' AstraZeneca said.
'The levels seen after the third dose booster were higher than the neutralising antibodies found in individuals who had been previously infected with and recovered naturally from COVID-19 (Alpha, Beta, Delta variants and original strain),' AstraZeneca added.
It explained that sera obtained from individuals one month after receiving the third dose booster vaccination neutralised the Omicron variant to levels that were broadly similar to those observed one month after the second dose against the Delta variant.
Two doses of Vaxzevria have been associated with protection against the Delta variant in real world studies, it added.
The study analysed blood samples from individuals infected with COVID-19; those who had been vaccinated with a two-dose schedule and a third dose booster; and those who had reported previous infection from other COVID-19 variants of concern.
The study included samples from 41 people who had received three doses of Vaxzevria.
The study was performed independently by investigators at the University of Oxford.
John Bell, Regius professor of medicine, University of Oxford, UK and one of the study investigators, said, 'It is very encouraging to see that current vaccines have the potential to protect against Omicron following a third dose booster.'
'These results support the use of third dose boosters as part of national vaccine strategies, especially to limit the spread of variants of concern, including Omicron,' Bell said.
Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: 'Vaxzevria plays an important role in vaccination programmes around the world and these data give us confidence that the vaccine should be given as a third dose booster.'
Data from another laboratory study supports Vaxzevria's effect against Omicron, with individuals vaccinated with two doses of Vaxzevria retaining neutralising activity against Omicron, although a decrease was seen compared to the original strain.
AstraZeneca is collecting real world evidence evaluating the effectiveness against the Omicron variant with academic groups in the southern African region.

AstraZeneca is also analysing blood samples from participants in the company's phase II/III trial to evaluate neutralising activity when given as a third dose booster against Omicron for both Vaxzevria and its investigational next generation COVID-19 vaccine, AZD2816.
Data from these studies are expected soon.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

Covishield booster works against Omicron
Omicron driven third Covid wave in India may peak in Feb: Covid Panel
By Shalini Bhardwaj
December 19, 2021 10:26 IST

Daily COVID-19 caseload in India that is currently around 7,500 infections is expected to increase once the Omicron starts displacing Delta as the dominant variant, informed members of the national COVID-19 supermodel committee and predicted the third wave in India early year.

IMAGE: A healthcare worker collecting a swab sample of a woman at a testing centre, in the Prayagraj, December 18, 2021. Photograph: ANI Photo

Vidyasagar, who is also the head of the national COVID-19 supermodel committee, said that India will have Omicron's third wave but it will be milder than the second wave.

"Third wave is likely to arrive early next year in India. It should be milder than the second wave due to a large-scale immunity present in the country now. There will definitely be a third wave. Right now, we are at around 7,500 cases per day which is sure to go up once Omicron starts displacing Delta as the dominant variant," he told ANI.
Vidyasagar, who is also a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad, said that it's unlikely that India will see more daily cases than the second wave.

"It is extremely unlikely that the third wave will see more daily cases than the second wave. Please remember that the Government of India started vaccinating ordinary Indians (i.e, other than front-line workers) only starting March 1, which was just about the time that the Delta variant hit. So the Delta variant hit a population that was 100 per cent vaccine-naive, other than the frontline workers."
He further said that according to a sero-survey, a tiny fraction has left that hasn't come into contact with delta virus, "Now we have sero-prevalence of 75 per cent to 80 per cent (prior exposure), first dose for 85 per cent of adults, both doses for 55 per cent of adults, and a "reach" for the pandemic of 95 per cent (meaning that only a tiny fraction of the public has not come into contact with the virus)."
"So the third wave will not see as many as daily cases as the second wave. We have also built up our capacity based on that experience, so we should be able to cope without difficulty," he said.
Explaining further, the IIT professor said that the number of cases would depend on two factors, each of which is unknown at present. "First, what is the extent to which Omicron bypasses natural immunity obtained by prior exposure to Delta," he said.
Citing the second reason, he said, "Second, what is the extent to which Omicron bypasses the immunity conferred by vaccination. Because these are not known, we have generated various "scenarios," assuming (for example) 100 per cent vaccine protection remains, or only 50 per cent remains, or all of it goes away.
"The same for natural immunity escape. For each scenario, we project the number of cases that could result," he added.
According to Vidyasagar, in the worst scenario, India will not have more than two lakh cases per day in case the third wave grips the country.
"I emphasise that these are projections, not predictions. We can start making predictions once we know how the virus is behaving in the Indian population. Based on our simulations, in the worst scenario that we have simulated, namely total loss of immunity conferred due to vaccination and maximum loss of naturally induced immunity, the number of cases remains below 1.7 to 1.8 lakh cases per day. This is less than half of the peak during the second wave," said the IIT professor.
The panel's other member, Maninda Agrawal, told ANI, "India is expected to report one lakh to two lakh cases per day which will be less than the second wave."
Elaborating on the record surge in COVID-19 infections, Agrawal said that the UK has high vaccine penetration (but mostly with mRNA vaccines), but low sero-prevalence.
"India has both high sero-prevalence which gives a lot of natural immunity, as well as high vaccine penetration. The UK also has an older population as well as more problems with obesity etc. This is why on Friday, the UK had 93,045 cases while India, with 20 times the population, had 7,145 cases. In my view, people trying to draw inferences about what would happen in India, based on what is happening in the UK, would be making a major error."
"If we look at South Africa, and specifically the Gauteng Province where Omicron was first identified, we see a trend of a rapid rise in cases, but hospitalizations initially not rising at the same level and are now beginning to plateau. The situation in South Africa is the inverse of that in the USA that has a low vaccine penetration but high sero-prevalence, (India has both parameters high, as mentioned above.)," he said.

"It allows us to learn the difference between vaccine and natural immunity. However, the effect of Omicron in the UK cannot be directly translated to India due to very different levels of natural immunity in the two countries," said Agarwal.
The panel assumes that community transmission of Omicron has been already started.
"Just continue to comply with COVID appropriate behaviour. Prevention is better than cure," said Vidyasagar.

Omicron driven third Covid wave in India may peak in Feb: Covid Panel
Booster shots will cost Rs 100 billion
By Ishaan Gera
December 24, 2021 11:07 IST

If booster shots are given on priority, the pace of vaccination may slow further.
In the worst case scenario, the country will take till mid-March to vaccinate its entire adult population partially.

IMAGE: A medic administers a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Chennai. Photograph: PTI Photo

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that initial lab studies showed that the third dose of the Covid vaccine neutralises the Omicron variant.
While the decision to administer the third dose in India still hangs in the balance, a few days ago, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) in its weekly bulletin said that it had discussed administration of booster dose to those aged above 40.
An analysis of data suggests that the government would need an additional 430 million doses (assuming 6 per cent wastage) to administer booster shots -- a third dose -- to the population aged 40 and above (375 million) and healthcare and frontline workers (30 million).

The decision on additional doses would end up costing another Rs 9,675 crore (Rs 96.75 billion) to the government, assuming it negotiates a price of Rs 225 per dose.
The above calculation does not include the cost of delivery and administration of vaccines by the government.
In November, the government announced that its spending on vaccination might come to Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion) this fiscal year, up from the Rs 35,000 crore (Rs 350 billion) it had announced in the Budget.

The pace of vaccination has declined in the last two months. Although there has been a pick-up in vaccination in the last fortnight, due to fears from the Omicron variant, India is still far from fully vaccinating its entire population.
The time to complete vaccination for the adult population is expected to get stretched out as the additional doses will need to be administered on priority.
An analysis by Business Standard found that on December 1, some of the larger states did not have enough doses to administer the partially vaccinated adult people with the second dose and the unvaccinated with the first dose. The country was short of 252 million doses.
Serum Institute of India has another 500 million doses in the pipeline, sufficient to vaccinate the entire population fully.
However, the government still needs to make additional purchases if booster doses are authorised.
Moreover, given the current pace, the country may not be able to partially vaccinate its adult population by the end of this month until it augments its capacity.
While the country averaged 115 doses per site in November and 130 in October, the productivity is down to 96 doses per site.
Of the total doses administered on Thursday, December 16, only 28 per cent, or 2.4 million doses, were first doses.
Given that the country still needs to vaccinate another 140 million people, it would take 58 days to vaccinate the entire population partially at the current pace.
The date may get pushed further beyond February 5, 2022, given the pace of first dose vaccination has been slowing down.
If the pace of daily first dose administration declines to 1.5 million, India would only be able to partially vaccinate its entire adult population by March 12, 2022.

The full vaccination would take another 120 days or four months, owing to the timeline required for the second dose administration.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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