India

No need to panic about XE variant, says Health Minister

A health worker inoculates the booster dose of COVID vaccine during a special camp at Lok Nayak Bhavan, in New Delhi, on April 12, 2022.

A health worker inoculates the booster dose of COVID vaccine during a special camp at Lok Nayak Bhavan, in New Delhi, on April 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Prices of COVID–19 vaccines are expected to fall further as the Indian markets open up to multiple companies offering competitive pricing, said Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday at a press conference. He cautioned that while the infection is under control in India, it hasn’t been wiped out and noted that there is a week–on–week increase in cases from some parts of the world including China.

“In India the whole government and society supported the country in the management of Covid-19 across multiple surges and currently our average daily cases [week ending April 12) is as low as 1,013 with 796 cases reported in the last 24 hours,’’ said the Minister.

The Minister said there is no need to panic about the Omicron XE variant. He said the Central government has supplied 16.24 crore doses of vaccine to 99 countries as on February 14 and offered Co-WIN platform as a digital global good to all the countries.

Reacting to an appeal by Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, that the government should look at reducing the time gap for precaution dose from nine months to six, the Minister said the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) will take a decision on it.

“We have always had experts advise us on how to go about our vaccination — including the timing for various cohorts and coverage. This time it will be no different. The matter will be discussed and the best possible advice will be used for the general public,’’ he said.

The Ministry has also directed all stakeholders to keep monitoring and maintain vigil on new variants and cases with the Minister chairing a review meeting with experts and officials on the new XE–variant.

Besides monitoring and surveillance of new variants and cases on the medical infrastructure and resources front, officials have been told to also constantly review the availability of essential drugs and medicines required for treatment.

“The ongoing vaccination drive must be carried out at full pace and all eligible should be vaccinated,’’ said Dr. Mandaviya.

The Health Ministry noted that more than 190.18 crore (1,90,18,53,215) vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far through the Central government (free of cost channel) and through direct State procurement category. Also more than 19.18 crore (19,18,82,756) balance and unutilised doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered.

Dr. Vineeta Singh Tandon, consultant, Internal Medicine, PSRI hospital, Delhi, said: “According to World Health Organisation, a new variant was detected in United kingdom on January 19 which is XE variant, classified under Omicron and is a recombinant variant of previous variants BA.1 (Omicron) and BA.2 (stealth). That means it contains genetic material from both strains. People should not put their guard down as COVID safety precautions and vaccination still remain the most important tool to be safe.”


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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 7:10:59 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid19-under-control-but-not-wiped-out-warns-health-minister/article65314627.ece