The population above 50 years of age, and people with co-morbidities in the 20 to 50 years age group are scheduled to start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine from March onwards, said All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria on Friday, while answering questions related to the COVID-19 vaccination drive. He was speaking at an interactive programme organised by the Health Ministry.
Dr. Guleria, while explaining that while it was not clear for how long the COVID-19 vaccination offers protection, said: “A good amount of antibodies will develop in about 14 days after the second vaccine shot. Though the exact time length about the protection offered is not clear, we believe that the cover will last for at least eight months, or may be longer.”
According to Union Health Minstry, a total of 77,66,319 beneficiaries had been vaccinated till 6 p.m. on February 12, 2021, as per the provisional reports, with no case of serious/severe adverse effects or deaths attributable to vaccination till date.
Here are the latest updates:
WHO chief warns of complacency as global virus cases drop
The head of the World Health Organization has said that the drop in confirmed COVID-19 infections around the world was encouraging, but cautioned against relaxing restrictions that have helped curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said the number of reported infections globally has declined for the fourth week in a row, and the number of deaths also fell for the second consecutive week.
“These declines appear to be due to countries implementing public health measures more stringently,” Tedros said. “We should all be encouraged, but complacency is as dangerous as the virus itself.” “Now is not the time for any country to relax measures or for any individual to let down their guard,” he added. “Every life that is lost now is all the more tragic as vaccines are beginning to be rolled out.” While the figures reported by countries to the WHO for the week ending Feb 8 are still incomplete, the global body said so far about 1.9 million newly confirmed cases were registered worldwide, down from more than 3.2 million the previous week.
Tedros said members of a WHO expert mission who recently visited China to investigate the possible source of the outbreak would publish a summary of their findings next week.
Chinese scientists and the WHO's team of international researchers said this week that the coronavirus most likely first appeared in humans after jumping from an animal, and an alternate theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab was unlikely.
Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the WHO mission, said Friday the labs in Wuhan that his team visited stated they had not been working with the virus that causes COVID-19, or had it in their collections before the outbreak. But he said it was possible the virus could still be present in samples that haven't yet been analysed.
Pakistan approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine
Pakistan has approved the emergency use of a second Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, making it the fourth drug to be cleared by the regulatory authority to tackle the deadly virus, which has claimed over 12,000 lives in the country.
Chinese company Cansino Biologics Inc's vaccine was approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Friday.
Drap officials said that after its approval for emergency use, the supply of the doses will start in a few weeks.
Cansino Bio is the only vaccine for which Pakistan conducted a clinical trial, with around 18,000 volunteers participating from across the country.
Britain's infection rate lowers to July numbers
Britain's scientific advisers say they are confident the coronavirus outbreak is shrinking across the country for the first time in more than six months.
The government says the reproduction or R number, which measures how many people each infected person passes the virus on to, is between 0.7 and 0.9. A number below 1 means the outbreak is shrinking.
It is the first time since July that the R number has been below 1 for every region of the country.
The U.K. is in lockdown to try to curb Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak, which has caused more than 116,000 deaths.
The number of deaths and new infections are shrinking after peaking in January.
The government is pushing ahead with a plan to vaccinate the entire adult population.
It looks on course to meet its target of giving the first of two shots of vaccine to the 15 million people at greatest risk, including everyone over 70, by Monday.
On Friday, Britain registered 15,144 new coronavirus cases to surpass 4.0 million.
Another 768 deaths raised the official death toll to 116,287, the fifth highest behind the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and India.
COVID-19 vaccination | Few complications, finds survey
A survey on post-vaccination symptoms experienced by 5,396 health-care workers in the country who received the COVID-19 vaccine has reported that 66% experienced at least one post-vaccination symptom. However, most of it was mild and self-limiting and for 68% the symptoms did not last over 48 hours. Only 6% spoke of any symptoms that lasted over 48 hours. For 80%, the symptoms did not affect their work the next day of vaccination.
The online survey, conducted between January 29 and February 4, was led by Rajeev Jayadevan, on behalf of the Indian Medical Association, Kochi.
Get inoculated in a week, Chennai Corpn. tells key workers
The Greater Chennai Corporation has registered the vaccination of 33,000 frontline workers against COVID-19 in the 15 zones of the city. The remaining frontline staff have just one week left to get inoculated in the current phase, Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash said.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, he said the immunisation drive had been successful without any reports of side-effects in persons who had received the dose. “The second dose will be administered 28 days after the first. The Chennai Corporation will launch the administration of the second dose on Saturday,” he said.
Over 50,000 frontline workers are yet to receive the shots. “All frontline workers are requested to get the first dose in a week. Frontline staff who fail to do so will get an opportunity for vaccination only after the completion of all [other] categories,” he said.
Healthcare workers to get second COVID-19 vaccine dose from today
The second COVID-19 vaccination drive will start from Saturday and eligible healthcare workers have been informed by authorities concerned, said officials.
There will be no extra arrangements made at vaccination sites for the second dose, they said, adding that new beneficiaries will also be able to take the first dose at all sites. A total of 14,843 beneficiaries, healthcare and frontline workers, took the COVID-19 vaccination in the city on Friday — the highest so far.
Melbourne starts five-day virus lockdown
Australia's second most populous state Victoria entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of COVID-19 cases sparked by the highly infections UK variant . One new locally acquired case was confirmed in the past 24 hours, Victoria health authorities said on Saturday, taking the number of active cases in the state to 20.
"A lot of people will be hurting today. This is not the position Victorians wanted to be in but I can't have a situation where in two weeks' time, we look back and wish we had taken these decisions now," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Saturday.
Include the physically challenged in priority group for vaccination: High Court
The Madras High Court on Friday ordered notices, returnable by three weeks, to the Centre and the State government on a public interest litigation petition, which insisted upon including the physically challenged in the priority group for administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy sought the response of the governments on the petition filed by polio survivor Meenakshi Balasubramanian from Chennai, who stated that the physically challenged faced increased risks and devastating consequences.
Four AEFI reported in Karnataka
Four serious adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) were reported in the State on Friday taking the total AEFIs to 14. Although officials did not share the nature of these AEFIs, they said these events were reported in Chickballapur, Udupi, Shivamogga and Kalaburgi and all have been hospitalised.
With 82,825 of the targeted 2,86,562 frontline workers getting vaccinated so far, the coverage for this group remained at 29% in Karnataka till Friday. However, 50% of the targeted 8,20,791 healthcare workers have been vaccinated so far. Bengaluru Rural district continued to record the lowest coverage with 13%. Tumkuru recorded the highest coverage with 71%.
( With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)