New Delhi, January 12
Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective against infections and hospitalisations even at the height of the Omicron-induced current surge ravaging the globe.
The health ministry on Wednesday shared new evidence from the US that reveals over 78 per cent lower chances of Covid infection among the fully vaccinated.
“A study from New York shows that beginning December 13, 2021, once the impact of Omicron became visible, fully vaccinated people showed 78 per cent lower chances of getting infected compared to those not vaccinated. Across the time period of analysis from May 2021 to now, the fully vaccinated population had between 90.2 pc and 97.5 per cent lower chance of getting hospitalised with Covid-19 compared to the unvaccinated. The message is clear – vaccinations are preventing severe disease and death,” health ministry spokesperson Lav Agarwal said today as India’s active cases soared to 9,55,319, daily cases touched 1,94,720 and case positivity rose sharply from 1.1 pc on December 30 to 11.05 pc.
The health ministry further cited WHO advisories to say that while Omicron has a growth advantage over the Delta, clinical severity data from South Africa, UK, Canada and Denmark shows a reduced risk of hospitalisation compared to Delta.
“Hospitalisations appear to be low but we need to be vigilant,” Member Health NITI Aayog VK Paul said cautioning against irrational use of medicines and recalling how over prescription of steroids in the second wave led to the mucormycosis epidemic.
The guilt of over prescription in the second wave is still there, Paul said noting that paracetamol, gargles and steam and budesonide if cough persists for five days is enough along with good diet and rest to recover from mild Covid and Remdesivir is not be given at home under any condition.
However, the ministry added that more data was needed to understand the clinical markers of severity from Omicron such as oxygen and mechanical ventilation use and deaths.
Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization, however, appears to be substantially higher than that against symptomatic disease since the vaccines are disease modifying and not disease preventing, ICMR chief Balram Bhargava said.
Worldwide 159 nations have reported 552191 Omicron cases and 115 deaths. In India, 28 states and UTs gave 4868 Omicron cases of which 1805 have recovered and 3061 are active. India has seen one death from Omicron.
ICMR, meanwhile, assured plenty of testing capacity in India saying once the person is exposed to Covid virus, tests will detect the disease from the third day to the eighth day. Bhargava said India had a capacity to produce 18 lakh home antigen test kits a day with kits of seven manufacturers approved for use and detailed on ICMR website.
On management, Bhargava said home quarantine was mandatory for all contacts of Covid positive people for 7 days although testing is needed only for high risk 60 plus contacts of lab confirmed patients and not all family members.
Soon India will upscale the availability of Omisure kit for detection of Omicron, developed by TATA MD and validated by ICMR, he said. It will detect Omicron in 2-3 hours.
Paul also said India was in a very good shape with regard to its testing ability.
“The real concern is irrational use of medicines,” he noted, adding that there were some people on ventilators with Omicron also and caution is necessary.
Vaccination – 1st dose given to 86.62 cr (92 pc adults); both doses to 64.16 cr (68 pc adults)
Precaution dose (since Jan 10) to 18.86 lakh; 15-18 year old dose to 2.83 cr (38 pc).