Covid-19 pandemic

Omicron may decrease efficacy but existing vaccines will still help: Govt

Does not rule out a third wave, but it would be mild

Omicron may decrease efficacy but existing vaccines will still help: Govt

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3

The Health Ministry on Friday said while there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on its spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines.

“However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved. Hence vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease, and vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible, but not vaccinated, one should get vaccinated,” the ministry said today, publishing a frequently asked question list on Omicron.

It also did not rule out a third wave due to the new variant, but said such a wave would be mild. To a question whether there will be a third wave, the ministry said: “Omicron cases are increasingly being reported from countries outside of South Africa and given its characteristics, it is likely to spread to more countries including India. However, the scale and magnitude of rise in cases and most importantly the severity of disease that will be caused is still not clear. Further, given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving.”

The ministry added that the scientific and medical community is geared up for developing and deploying diagnostics, carrying out genomic surveillance, generating evidence about viral and epidemiologic characteristics, and development of therapeutics.

On what precautions to take, the ministry said “The precautions and steps to be taken remain same as before. Mask properly, get vaccinated, keep distance and maintain ventilation and hand hygiene.”

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