A report on the effectiveness of the available vaccines in the country against the Omicron variant of COVID-19 would be available in a week, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
He made the observation while replying to a “short duration discussion on the situation arising out of Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in the country.”
So far, 161 cases of Omicron had been detected in the country and while 14% cases were mild, nearly 80% were asymptomatic. The medicine protocol for Omicron remained the same as the Delta, Alpha and other variants.
The Minister noted that 88% of the eligible population had received their first dose and 58% were fully vaccinated.
“The Omicron variant was first detected in Africa on November 24; we have made adequate arrangements to fight the virus. At present, there are 38 genome sequencing laboratories in the country. We are culturing the virus strain to see if our vaccines are working on that variant or not, its impact is still being studied, will get the report in a week,” he stated.
During the second wave, it was observed that many complained about shortage of oxygen, and the manufacturing capacity was increased overnight but the problem of logistics remained. The Indian Air Force was roped in and special tankers to ferry the oxygen were imported. “However, it was seen that many [hospitals] got oxygen quota allocated through courts. It was found that when oxygen reached them, they had no space to keep it…the situation was politicised, it should not be done,” he said.
As of now, 48,000 ventilators have been given to the States. “During the second wave, we received complaints that ventilators are not working. We have now made the States responsible for checking the fitness of the machines and only they can further allot to hospitals,” he added.