The federal government has urged folks to ‘vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate’ in response to widespread and rising concern after India reported its first instances of the Omicron Covid pressure.
In a quick assertion launched Friday, the federal government stated “… given its (the Omicron pressure) traits it’s prone to unfold to extra international locations, together with India”, underlining expectations that extra instances of the brand new pressure might be detected within the nation over the following few days and weeks.
The federal government additionally stated “the severity of the illness is anticipated to be low” due to the quick tempo of vaccination and a measure of pure immunity acquired after publicity to the Delta variant.
“Omicron instances are more and more being reported from international locations exterior of South Africa and, given its traits, (the variant) is prone to unfold to extra international locations, together with India… (however) given the quick tempo of vaccination in India, and excessive publicity to Delta (as evidenced by excessive seropositivity), the severity of the illness is anticipated to be low,” the federal government’s FAQ stated.
“There isn’t a proof to counsel current vaccines don’t work on Omicron… vaccine safety can also be by antibodies in addition to mobile immunity… Therefore, vaccines are anticipated to nonetheless supply safety towards extreme illness and, vaccination with the accessible vaccines is essential,” the FAQ stated.
Current exams will decide up indicators of Covid an infection however they can not supply definitive proof of Omicron.
Covid exams “detect particular genes within the virus, comparable to ‘spike’ (S), ‘enveloped’ (E) and ‘nucleocapsid’ (N) to verify presence”. Within the Omicron pressure, the S gene is closely mutated and so “a few of the primers might result in outcomes indicating absence of the S gene” and this, in relation to different markers, “may very well be used as a diagnostic characteristic” to establish the brand new variant, the federal government stated.
“… for closing affirmation of the Omicron variant, genomic sequencing is required,” the federal government warned, echoing cautionary notes on this matter from the WHO.
This warning can also be as a result of the S gene can also be lacking within the Alpha variant.
The Omicron variant was first reported from South Africa final week.
It has a reported 50 mutations (in comparison with Delta), of which 30+ are on the spike protein, which is the goal of most present vaccines and is what the virus makes use of to entry to the physique’s cells.
Researchers try to verify whether or not this makes it extra transmissible or deadly than Delta, and are additionally simply how efficient current vaccines might be.
Since asserting the primary two instances yesterday, a variety of different samples have been flagged as doable Omicron instances, together with two in Tamil Nadu. These and earlier samples, together with 10 from Mumbai, six from Delhi and two from Chandigarh, are being analysed to establish the pressure.
Samples from 5 contacts of one of many Omicron sufferers (a 46-year-old Bengaluru anaesthetist with no journey historical past) are additionally being analysed, after they too examined optimistic for COVID-19.