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No Scientific Data So Far To Show Delta Plus Variant Adversely Impacts Vaccine Efficacy: COVID Task Force Chief V K Paul

According to COVID Task Force chief V K Paul, amid rising concerns over the Delta plus variant of the coronavirus, there is no scientific data so far to establish that the new variant is highly transmissible or reduces vaccine efficacy

No Scientific Data So Far To Show Delta Plus Variant Adversely Impacts Vaccine Efficacy: COVID Task Force Chief V K Paul
Highlights
  • Daily fresh cases of COVID have come down in past few days: Mr Paul
  • If we are disciplined, we can beat the pandemic: Mr Paul
  • Delta plus variant exhibits an additional mutation in the Delta variant

New Delhi: It will be unfair to put a date for any COVID wave as the behaviour of coronavirus is unpredictable and a disciplined and effective pandemic response can help the country get away from any significant outbreak, COVID Task Force chief V K Paul said on Monday (June 28). Amid rising concerns over the Delta plus variant of the virus, Mr Paul, who is also a Niti Aayog Member, asserted that there is no scientific data so far to establish that the new variant is highly transmissible or reduces vaccine efficacy.

Also Read: Zydus Cadila’s COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Over 12 Years Expected By August: National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation Chief

In an interview to PTI, Mr Paul said that another wave of any size would be dependent upon several factors, including overall discipline in terms of COVID-appropriate behaviour, testing and containment strategies, and vaccination rates.

And in addition, the unpredictable behaviour of the virus can also change the pandemic dynamics. In such a scenario, their complex factor will determine the chain of transmission and outbreak. Occurrence or non-occurrence of any wave, is in our own hands. To my mind, it is not fair to put any date for any wave, he said.

Daily fresh cases of COVID have come down from four lakhs during the peak of the second COVID wave to around 50,000 in the past few days and the unlock process or lifting of restrictions is underway in many parts of the country.

If we are determined and disciplined and marshal effective pandemic response, we should be in a position to get away from any significant outbreak, Mr Paul said.

Currently, three COVID vaccines — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, Covishield by Serum Institute of India (SII) and Russia’s Sputnik V — are being used for inoculation in India. When asked about the Delta plus variant, Mr Paul said scientific knowledge about it is still in the early stage.

The so-called Delta plus variant exhibits an additional mutation in the Delta variant and since this is a new variant, scientific knowledge is still in the early stage. Whether this additional mutation in the Delta variant is associated with increased transmissibility or excess severity of disease, or any adverse effect on vaccine efficacy is currently not established and we should wait for this information to emerge. And we should wait for these aspects to be studied systematically, he pointed out.

A new viral variant of the coronavirus, Delta Plus, was identified on June 11, and was recently classified as a variant of concern. Regarding the effectiveness of Covaxin and Covishield against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, Mr Paul said that based on the scientific evaluation by the ICMR, both vaccines are effective against the coronavirus, including the Delta variant, which is presently the predominant variant in the country.

Also Read: Availability Of COVID Vaccine For Kids Will Pave Way For School Reopening: AIIMS Chief

ICMR is the Indian Council of Medical Research. When asked if India is close to giving indemnity to foreign vaccine makers like Pfizer and Moderna, Paul said the issue has multiple dimensions and it is not wise to give a timeline for such issues.

The discussion for paving the way for internationally developed vaccines to India, is going on. The issue has multiple dimensions and we are trying to find an agreed way forward at the earliest. We are trying to expedite the progress in every possible way, he said.

However, he did not delve into the indemnity issues with respect to approving the vaccines made by foreign companies. Indemnity is one of the issues that is still to be sorted out between the authorities and the companies — Pfizer and Moderna — with respect to approving their respective vaccines for use in India. About the progress in Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin application for getting Emergency Use Listing (EUL) certificate from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Paul said the process is proceeding very well.

Additional documents were submitted by the company last week. We would like to see an expedited review of the data and hope that the decision will come very soon, he noted.

On whether the government was looking at reducing the gap between two Covishied doses, the Niti Aayog member pointed out that the country has taken the decision to increase the inter-dose interval for Covishield to three months after careful evaluation of the scientific data.

The decisions such as this are taken by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), whose members include our top scientists. It is for this group to look at the additional data, additional scientific information and to take a decision based on scientific principles, he noted.

Last month, the government extended the gap between two doses of Covishield from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks.

As of now, their decision is to continue with the present dose schedule, Mr Paul said.

To a query on how much did the Centre invest in expanding the production capacity of vaccine companies in India, he said financial grants to the tune of over Rs 670 crore have been assigned to various vaccine manufacturers.

But in addition, and very importantly, our science organisations have extended huge technical support to the vaccine manufacturers by way of providing laboratory access and offering vaccine trial sites in various locations, Mr Paul said.

For instance, he said the National Institute of Virology in Pune has provided support by way of highly complex animal studies for vaccine development.

Also Read: Over 50 Per Cent Of Mumbai Children Have COVID-19 Antibodies As Per Sero Survey: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,29,84,542Cases
20,45,14,204Active
3,35,32,126Recovered
49,38,212Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,29,84,542 and 49,38,212 have died; 20,45,14,204 are active cases and 3,35,32,126 have recovered as on October 23, 2021 at 3:51 am.

India

3,41,59,562 16,326Cases
1,73,7282,017Active
3,35,32,126 17,677Recovered
4,53,708 666Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,59,562 confirmed cases including 4,53,708 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,73,728 and 3,35,32,126 have recovered as on October 23, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,99,850 1,632

27,747 152

64,32,138 1,744

1,39,965 40

Kerala

48,97,884 9,361

81,490 603

47,88,629 9,401

27,765 563

Karnataka

29,85,227 378

8,920 97

29,38,312 464

37,995 11

Tamil Nadu

26,92,949 1,152

13,531 259

26,43,431 1,392

35,987 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,781 478

5,398 102

20,43,050 574

14,333 6

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,069 1

85 22

16,87,085 23

22,899

West Bengal

15,84,492 846

7,577 42

15,57,882 792

19,033 12

Delhi

14,39,526 38

340 29

14,14,095 8

25,091 1

Odisha

10,37,523 467

4,197 139

10,25,025 603

8,301 3

Chhattisgarh

10,05,799 26

214 8

9,92,013 18

13,572

Rajasthan

9,54,396 1

32 4

9,45,410 5

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,378 25

165 9

8,16,126 16

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,729 8

80 8

7,82,126 16

10,523

Haryana

7,71,133 8

122 9

7,60,962 17

10,049

Bihar

7,26,045 3

30 0

7,16,354 3

9,661

Telangana

6,69,932 193

3,963 4

6,62,025 196

3,944 1

Assam

6,08,126 315

3,866 104

5,98,296 209

5,964 2

Punjab

6,02,163 28

230 4

5,85,382 24

16,551

Jharkhand

3,48,562 36

183 17

3,43,244 19

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,799 12

166 10

3,36,235 22

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,494 108

870 56

3,26,195 52

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,312 174

1,483 31

2,17,096 141

3,733 2

Goa

1,77,819 54

600 18

1,73,862 72

3,357

Puducherry

1,27,621 57

454 0

1,25,314 56

1,853 1

Manipur

1,23,107 56

906 440

1,20,294 494

1,907 2

Mizoram

1,16,689 745

9,636 398

1,06,653 1,143

400

Tripura

84,376 7

98 7

83,462 14

816

Meghalaya

83,269 59

698 37

81,128 94

1,443 2

Chandigarh

65,320 5

28 2

64,472 3

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,075 10

141 1

54,654 9

280

Sikkim

31,842 23

183 2

31,266 25

393

Nagaland

31,689 19

245 5

30,766 23

678 1

Ladakh

20,896

40 3

20,648 3

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,679 1

4 0

10,671 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

6 1

7,511 1

129

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