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Vaccinations, herd immunity reducing active Covid cases in Maharashtra: Experts | Mumbai news

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Maharashtra on Tuesday recorded 766 fresh Covid-19 cases and 19 fatalities from the disease, taking the overall tally of infections to 6,631,297 and the death toll to 140,766.

Experts, meanwhile, said the state was seeing an overall decline in active Covid-19 cases largely because of two factors: the anti-Covid vaccination drive and herd immunity.

Mumbai recorded 190 new coronavirus cases and one death with its tally of fatalities reaching 16,311.

A total of 87,506 Covid-19 tests were done in the past 24 hours across Maharashtra, and 929 people recovered from the infection on Tuesday.

The daily Covid-19 test positivity rate for the state was 0.87%.

Also Read: K’taka issues new RT-PCR test norms for people coming from Maharashtra

Pune had earlier been leading in terms of the number of active Covid-19 cases for months, followed by Thane. However, due to a recent surge in cases, Mumbai now has the most number of active coronavirus infections.

Of the 9,493 active cases, Mumbai has the highest, with 2,561, followed by Pune (2,027) and Thane (1,160).

State surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate said the decline in active Covid-19 cases is directly proportional to the number of new infections. “The decrease in active cases indicates the decline in Covid-19 infections. Our sustained efforts to control the virus are bearing the fruit in the form of a lower number of new cases,” he said.

During the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, 691,851 active cases were reported in the state on April 23. The figure was below 20,000 on October 27 and less than 30,000 on October 13.

Dr Ameet Mandot, director at Gut Clinic, said vaccinations against the coronavirus disease and herd immunity together led to a decline in numbers.

“Vaccination has played a vital role in the decline in cases, and it helped in reducing severity [of the disease] in infected people. Also, people are developing herd immunity. These factors are hugely responsible for the control of the virus,” said Dr Mandot.

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A new warning on Omicron covid variant severity from South African scientists

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Leading South African scientists warned it is still too early to determine that the omicron variant will only cause mild illness.

The true impact of the coronavirus strain is currently hard to determine because it has so far mostly affected young people, who are better able to fight off the pathogen, and people tend to get sicker after carrying the virus for some time, the scientists said in a presentation to lawmakers on Wednesday.

Earlier the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said the daily number of new confirmed cases in South Africa almost doubled to 8,561 infections in the last 24 hours. Omicron is now by far the dominant strain in the country.

The latest infections have occurred “mostly in the younger age groups but we are starting to see this move into the older age groups,” Michelle Groome, head of public health surveillance and response at the NICD, told the lawmakers. “We are also expecting that the more severe complications may not present themselves for a few weeks.”

On Nov. 25, the South African government and scientists announced that a new variant, later christened omicron by the World Health Organization, had been found in the country. That triggered an equity market sell-off and led to the imposition of travel bans on several southern African nations.

Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist at the KRISP genomics institute, said the severity of disease caused by the new strain may also be masked by the fact that many people have already contracted other variants or have been inoculated, giving them some immunity.

“If this virus and this variant spreads very efficiently through the population, then it will still be able to find those people in the population who are unvaccinated and may be unprotected against severe disease,” he said. “That’s what also concerns us when we think about the continent more generally.”

South Africa’s vaccination rate is low compared with western nations and China but is well above most African nations, with about a quarter of the population fully inoculated. Across the continent of 1.3 billion people, only 6.7% are fully vaccinated, with only 0.1% of the 100 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo having received their shots. 

Even so, Lessells expects that while the variant may evade antibodies the body’s other defenses, such as T-cells, may still be effective. T-cells kill infected cells.

“We expect that the protection you have against severe disease is much more difficult for this variant to get around,” he told the lawmakers. “We don’t expect this will have any effect on the therapeutics we use.”

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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India’S Daily Covid Tally Outnumbers Recoveries; Fatalities At 447

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With 9,765 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,46,06,541, while the active cases increased to 99,763, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday. The death toll climbed to 4,69,724 with 477 fresh fatalities including, 403 from Kerala, according to the data updated at 8 am. The ministry said the daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been less than 50,000 for 158 consecutive days now. The active cases comprise 0.29 percent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.35 percent, the ministry said. An increase of 740 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.89 percent. It has been less than two percent for the last 59 days. The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.85 percent. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,40,37,054, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.36 percent.

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COVID-19: Here’s What Vaccine Makers are Saying on Protection Against Omicron Variant | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel

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With Omicron raising concerns about vaccines’ efficacy, drugmakers are stress-testing existing jabs while also racing to prepare new formulas, according to media reports.

All major drugmakers including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca have said that they are working to quickly investigate and adapt their shots to a new and highly mutated variant of the virus.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they are investigating the new, heavily mutated variant, the Wall Street Journal reported. The companies added they can adapt their mRNA vaccine within six weeks and start shipping batches within 100 days if an escape variant is identified.

Although the company offered reassurance that the fully inoculated people would have a “high level of protection against severe disease” from the new variant, there is, as yet, no conclusive evidence on how immune protection holds up against the heavily mutated variant.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Omicron poses a “very high risk”. The global health body said that scientists all over the world are working to understand Omicron, its risks and whether it causes severe disease, and vaccine effectiveness. The data will be available within two weeks.

Stephane Bancel, chief executive at Moderna, said that currently available vaccines for COVID-19 could likely be less effective against the new Omicron variant. He added that it will take several months before pharma companies can manufacture variant-specific jabs at scale, The Financial Times reported.

The University of Oxford, which makes the coronavirus vaccine with AstraZeneca, in a statement, said there was “no evidence so far” that existing vaccines would not continue to provide protection against Omicron, as they have for previous variants of concern.

It added that they had the “necessary tools and processes in place for rapid development of an updated Covid-19 vaccine if it should be necessary”.

Meanwhile, China on Tuesday said it is ready to tackle the newly detected Omicron coronavirus variant, and it is confident that the country’s mainstream tests will block community transmission.

According to Xu Wenbo, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccines developed in China remain effective against the new mutated variant, yet to better cope it has made technological reserve preparations in vaccine development, Global Times reported.

Producers of inactivated vaccine, protein subunit vaccine or adenovirus vector vaccine have set about studying the new variant and they are in the process of gene sequencing design, Xu, head for National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention with the China CDC, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Russia’s Gamaleya Institute also believes that both Sputnik V and Sputnik Light will neutralise Omicron.

The Gamaleya Institute, based on existing protocols of immediately developing vaccine versions for variants of concern, has already begun developing the new version of the Sputnik vaccine adapted to Omicron, said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

However, in an unlikely case, such modification is needed, the new Sputnik Omicron version can be made ready for mass-scale production in 45 days, he added.

As per Bancel, the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa, suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year.

He said scientists were worried because 32 of the 50 mutations in the Omicron variant are on the spike protein, which current vaccines focus on to boost the human body’s immune system to combat Covid.

As there is still a lack of reliable data on vaccine efficacy against Omicron, WHO’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the FT that “we believe it’s premature to draw any conclusions about the efficacy of vaccines against Omicron”.

“WHO has convened all our expert groups and scientists are working on experiments to test neutralisation capacity of stored sera from recovered patients or vaccinated individuals against the new variant. This will take a few weeks.”

Swaminathan said “we need to be patient”, pending full “clinical effectiveness studies to truly understand if this variant is able to overcome the immunity generated by existing vaccines”.

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The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.

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