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India crosses 300 million cumulative covid-19 vaccinations

A health worker administering the second does of Covaxin, a Covid-19 vaccine to a beneficiary in the 18-45 age group at a vaccination sitePremium
A health worker administering the second does of Covaxin, a Covid-19 vaccine to a beneficiary in the 18-45 age group at a vaccination site

  • In the new phase of the universalisation of the covid-19 vaccination drive, the Union Government will procure and supply (free of cost) 75% of the vaccines being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to States and UTs

India’s cumulative covid-19 vaccine coverage breached the 300 million mark on Wednesday. As the new phase of universalization of covid-19 vaccination commenced from Monday, more than 58.34 lakh Vaccine Doses administered today, as per the 7 pm provisional report, the union health ministry said.

Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have administered more than 10 lakh beneficiaries of the age group 18-44 years for the first dose of covid-19 vaccine.

In the new phase of the universalisation of the covid-19 vaccination drive, the Union Government will procure and supply (free of cost) 75% of the vaccines being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to States and UTs.

More than 29.68 crore vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far, through Government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category, the government said. Of this, the total consumption, including wastages is 27,76,26,985 doses (as per data available at 8 AM on Wednesday.

“More than 1.92 crore vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered. Furthermore, more than 39 lakh vaccine doses are in the pipeline and will be received by the States/UTs within the next 3 days," the union health ministry said in a statement. Though the government is attempting to scale up vaccination and the pandemic appears to be receding, the new coronavirus variants continue to be a major concern.

Based on the recent findings of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday alerted and advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the Delta Plus variant of covid-19 being found in some districts in these States.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan communicated to these three states this variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon Districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta Districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri Districts of Madhya Pradesh.

INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole genome sequencing in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. INSACOG is tasked with not just the whole genome sequencing but also for giving timely inputs on appropriate Public Health Response measures to be adopted by States and UTs.

INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus Variant, currently a Variant of Concern (VOC), has the characteristics such as increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

The Union Health Ministry has advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh that the Public Health Response measures, while broadly remaining the same as have been implemented by them earlier, have to become more focused and effective. The States Chief Secretaries have been advised to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters (as identified by INSACOG) including preventing crowds & intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

They were also advised to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are promptly sent to the designated laboratories of INSACOG so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made for further guidance to be provided to States, the union health ministry said.

Public health experts have said that the government needs to further scale up genomic sequencing for finding more such variants, if any circulating in India. “The need of the hour also is to expand the genome sequencing effort. As of now what is known is that Delta plus variant has been detected in 3 states in India and is highly infectious. There are concerns that the next wave could be caused by it. Further, there are also concerns that this variant may escape treatment by the monoclonal antibodies. It also remains to be seen whether this variant escapes the immunity provided by infections and vaccination," said Dr Sumana Arora, Vice President, Clinical Services, DayToDay Health, a global organisation that guides patients through their medical procedures and helps them recover and return to normal life. India has reported 50,848 new covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours with 1359 deaths.

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