Vaccines preventing many COVID-19 deaths in third wave: Government

Five States top contributors to the present surge, says Health Ministry; for the first time, Government terms it as “the third wave” of the pandemic.

January 20, 2022 06:37 pm | Updated January 21, 2022 09:18 am IST - New Delhi

Medic attend a patient into a Covid-19 Isolation center in New Delhi, on January 20, 2022.

Medic attend a patient into a Covid-19 Isolation center in New Delhi, on January 20, 2022.

India is seeing relatively low mortality in the ongoing COVID-19 surge because of enhanced vaccination cover, said V. K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, adding that 6.5 crore persons, who were due for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, had not taken it so far.

“They should take this dose to ensure that they don’t prove to be the weak link in the fight against the pandemic. Anybody who is not protected can spread the infection too,’’ Dr. Paul said during the weekly Health Ministry press conference on Thursday.

 

For the first time, the Health Ministry termed the present surge as “the third wave” of the pandemic in the country, adding that Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi are among the top contributors to the COVID-19 surge. In the week ending on January 19, 515 districts reported a weekly case positivity of more than 5%.

Rajesh Bhushan, the Health Secretary, also spoke at the press meet. He explained that on April 30, 2021 there were 3,86,452 new cases, 3,059 deaths and 31,70,228 active cases. The proportion of fully vaccinated people at that time was 2%. On January 20, 2022 there are 3,17,532 new cases, 380 deaths and 19,24,051 active cases, while the proportion of fully vaccinated people stands at 72%. “This clearly shows that vaccines have a huge protective cover against deaths,’’ he said.

The Ministry added that the move to provide a precaution dose for select adult populations is doing well. It indicated that till January 20, 63% of healthcare workers and 58% of frontline workers eligible for the<SU>precaution dose were vaccinated, and among eligible senior citizens, 39% received their precaution dose.

 

Speaking of the sharp rise in the use of home testing kits, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) head Balram Bhargava, who also participated in the briefing, said that two lakh home tests had been used in last 20 days as against 3,000 in the whole of 2021.

He added that India has adequate amount of testing material and the States where testing numbers have shown a decline have been instructed to enhance testing.

Asked about the percentage of children affected by the current third surge, Mr. Bhushan said that in 2020, 10% of the total cases and 0.96% of the deaths were reported in the 0-19 years age group, and in 2021, 11% cases of the total cases and 0.70% of the deaths were reported in the 0-19 years age group.

He added that of the adult patients coming in, currently, around 99% had common symptoms of fever, cough, and irritation in throat, which usually settled down after the fifth day. Muscular weakness and tiredness is also reported by these patients. For pediatric patients (11 to 18 years), fever is common symptom along with upper respiratory tract infection.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry in its presentation noted that Europe is seeing a decrease in daily new COVID-19 cases although it still contributes to the maximum cases, while Asia is showing a sharp surge in the global contribution of cases from 7.9% to approximately 18.4% in four weeks.

Commenting on the COVID-19 vaccines, Covaxin and Covishield, being recommended for regular market approval, Mr. Bhushan said that further details would be released following a re-look by the competent authority.

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