The government on Thursday said that there have been extensive deliberations on whether the precautionary (third) dose of the Covid vaccine should be the same as the first two doses, adding that a decision on the same is expected before doses are administered to healthcare and frontline workers and citizens above 60 years with comorbidities.
Addressing a press conference, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava said the government will issue clear cut recommendations on this before January 10, when administering the precautionary dose to healthcare and frontline workers and those above 60 years with comorbidities will begin.
“We are analysing all the data that is available in terms of which vaccine can be given…whether it is going to be the same one or it is going to be a different one. Before January 10 we will have to clear cut recommendations on the same. The drug controller and the NTAGI are meeting and that decision will be taken,” Dr Bhargava was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Meanwhile, India reported 13,154 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The active cases stand at 82,402 cases, while the death toll has climbed to 4,80,860.
The Omicron case tally has risen to 961 as of Thursday, with 263 cases in Delhi and 252 in Maharashtra. Of the 961 cases, 320 Omicron cases have recovered or been discharged.
Maharashtra, Bengal and Delhi emerging as states/UTs of concern
The government on Thursday said that Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat are emerging as states and UTs of concern on the basis of weekly Covid-19 cases and positivity rate. It said that eight districts are reporting over 10 per cent weekly positivity, while 14 districts are reporting between 5-10 per cent positivity.
India’s R naught value, which indicates the spread of Covid-19, is 1.22 so cases are increasing, not shrinking, the government said.
The country has reported more than 10,000 daily new Covid-19 cases after 33 days, it said stressing that there is a need for a heightened vigil in view of a sharp increase in infections.
‘Omicron circulating in Delhi’
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain Thursday admitted that the new, heavily-mutated Omicron variant is circulating in the community in Delhi and is possibly the reason behind the recent increase in the number of cases of Covid-19.
“Covid-19 cases have increased rapidly over the last few days. As per the genome sequencing data, 46 per cent of them are Omicron cases, including people who have travel history and those who do not. This means Omicron is now in Delhi,” said Jain in an online briefing about the increasing cases.
The Indian Express had reported that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority in its meeting Wednesday accepted the possibility of a community spread after no history of international travel or contact with international travellers were found after investigating nearly 60 cases reported over Monday and Tuesday.
Furthermore, 64 of the 73 new cases reported Wednesday also did not have any history of travel or contact.
Covid spike continues in Mumbai, 3671 cases in last 24 hrs
Mumbai on Thursday reported 3,671 fresh Covid cases and a total of 371 recoveries, taking the tally of overall active cases to 11,360. The city had recorded 2,510 cases a day earlier.
Earlier in the day, the Centre wrote to the Maharashtra government to enhance the surveillance in the five districts of Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Pune, Thane and Nagpur which recorded high test positivity rates in the last few weeks. Active cases in Maharashtra have been increased by 117.4 per cent since last two weeks.
UP elections to be held as per schedule: EC
Amid concerns of poll rallies being held during a rise in Covid-19 cases, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra Thursday said all political parties in Uttar Pradesh want the Assembly elections to be held according to schedule albeit with proper coronavirus protocols.
Addressing a press conference, CEC Chandra said there would be no delay in conducting polls in the state. “Representatives of all political parties met us and told us that elections should be conducted on time following all Covid-19 protocols,” he said.
“I have been told that 86 per cent of the people in the state have got the first dose and 49 per cent the second shot of the Covid vaccine…We have been assured that in 15 to 20 days all eligible people will get their first dose,” the chief election commissioner was quoted as saying by PTI. “We have asked for increase in vaccination coverage,” he said.
The CEC also said that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus was also reviewed.
(Inputs from PTI)