Omicron Severity Likely To Be Low: Health Ministry’s Latest Info

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Omicron launches in Asia this week (File)

New Delhi:

The government has called on the public to ‘vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate’ in response to widespread and growing concern after the first case of Omicron covid strain was reported in India.

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The government added that “the severity of the disease is expected to decrease” because of the rapid rate of vaccination and a measure of the natural immunity acquired after exposure to the delta variant.

In a brief statement issued Friday, the government said “… because of its (Omicron strain) properties it is likely to spread to more countries, including India”, emphasizing the expectation that more cases of new strains would be identified in the country. The next few days and weeks.

“Omicron cases are increasingly being reported from countries outside of South Africa and, given its characteristics, (variants) are likely to spread to more countries, including India … (but) due to the rapid immunization in India and high delta exposure Proved), the severity of the disease is expected to be low, “the government’s FAQ said.

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“There is no evidence that existing vaccines do not work in Omicron … vaccine protection antibodies as well as cellular immunity … so, vaccines are still expected to provide protection against serious diseases and vaccination with available vaccines is important,” the FAQ said.

Existing tests will sort out the symptoms of covid infection but they cannot provide conclusive evidence of omicron.

Covid tests “identify specific genes of the virus, such as ‘spike’ (S), ‘envelope’ (E) and ‘nucleocapsid’ (N) to confirm the presence”. In the Omicron strain, the S gene varies greatly and so “some primers may lead to results that indicate the absence of the S gene” and it may be used as a diagnostic feature, in relation to other markers, to identify new forms, the government said.

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“… Genomic sequencing is required for final confirmation of the Omicron variant,” the government warned, echoing a warning note from the WHO.

This warning is also due to the absence of the S gene in the alpha variant.

The Omicron variant was first reported from South Africa last week.

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It reported 50 mutations (compared to Delta), including 30+ spike proteins, most of which are current vaccine targets and which the virus uses to access body cells.

Researchers are trying to confirm that this makes Delta more contagious or lethal, and also how effective existing vaccines will be.

Since the first two cases were announced yesterday, other samples, including two in Tamil Nadu, have been identified as potential Omicron cases. These and earlier samples, including 10 from Mumbai, six from Delhi and two from Chandigarh, are being analyzed to identify strains.

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Five contact samples of one of the Omicron patients (a 46-year-old Bangalore anesthetist with no travel history) are also being analyzed, after they also tested positive for COVID-19.

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