Normalcy by June 2022 if Omicron Less Virulent, Says Expert; ICMR's New Covid Tests to Be Cheaper, Faster

India on Monday removed Bangladesh, ad added Ghana and Tanzania to the list of “at risk” countries, from where passengers have to follow additional Covid-19 testing and quarantine measures.

By: News Desk

Last Updated: December 08, 2021, 22:21 IST

People are seen in a crowded marketplace amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the old quarters of Delhi, India, April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Experts around the world are trying to gauge if the Omicron variant of Covid-19 can cause a severe wave of infections. Advisor to Maharashtra government on Covid-19, Subash Salunke, told Times of India that although Omicron is more transmissible, it is not causing more severe infections. According to Salunke, once community transmission of Omicron begins it will replace the highly virulent Delta variant. “People may get infected or Read More

Dec 08, 2021 15:28 IST

Less chances of 5 suspects having contracted Omicron: Goa CM

There are less chances of the five persons, including Russian and Georgian nationals, quarantined earlier this week in Goa, of being diagnosed with the Omicron variant of Covid, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday. According to state Health Ministry officials out of the five persons suspected of having Omicron, four are asymptomatic, while the health of the fifth person who is symptomatic is improving and has been taken off oxygen.

Dec 08, 2021 13:07 IST

Pfizer Covid Vaccine Provides Partial Protection Against Omicron: Study

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine provides less immunity against Omicron than from other coronavirus variants, according to a lab study that suggests a booster may still provide good protection. The yet-to-be peer reviewed study, posted on the pre-print repository medRxiv on Tuesday, also found that considerable immunity is retained in people who were both vaccinated and previously infected. The emergence of Omicron has raised concerns that, based on the large number of mutations in the spike protein and elsewhere on the virus, this variant will have considerable escape from vaccine elicited immunity. The SARS-CoV-2 virus uses the spike protein to enter and infect the human cells.

Dec 08, 2021 12:41 IST

Germany Records Highest Daily Covid Deaths Since February

Germany recorded the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 since February on Wednesday as it battles to stop a fourth wave of the pandemic. A total of 69,601 new infections were reported, 2,415 more than the same time a week ago, and another 527 people died – the highest number since Feb. 12 – to bring the total to 104,047, the German Robert Koch Institute for disease control said.

Dec 08, 2021 12:37 IST

Meghalaya Issues New Travel Guidelines, Makes Aarogya Setu Mandatory

Meghalaya government has issued new guidelines making it mandatory for people entering the state to register with the government website and download the Arogya Setu App and the Behavioural Change Management App, an official said. The new guidelines were issued after the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was detected in some states, the official said on Tuesday. READ MORE

Dec 08, 2021 12:20 IST

Mizoram Issues Guidelines for International Travellers

International travellers entering Mizoram will have to undergo mandatory Rapid Antigen Test as per the new guidelines issued by the state government in the wake of detection of Omicron variant of COVID-19 in some states, an official said. Following the recommendations of a State Level Expert Team on COVID-19 Management, the Mizoram government has issued guidelines for international travellers, the official said on Tuesday. READ MORE

Dec 08, 2021 12:09 IST

Arunachal Pradesh Records One New Covid-19 Case

Single-day recoveries outnumbered fresh COVID-19 cases in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday with five more people recuperating from the disease and one new case registered, a senior official said here. The death toll remained unchanged at 280 as no fresh fatality was recorded in the past 24 hours, State Surveillance Officer (SSO) Dr Lobsang Jampa said. The frontier state has so far reported 55,295 COVID-19 cases and 54,984 recoveries, Jampa stated. Arunachal Pradesh currently has 31 active cases, he said.

Dec 08, 2021 11:38 IST

Omicron vs Delta: Battle of Coronavirus Mutants is Critical

As the omicron coronavirus variant spreads in southern Africa and pops up in countries all around the world, scientists are anxiously watching a battle play out that could determine the future of the pandemic. Can the latest competitor to the world-dominating delta displace it? READ MORE

Dec 08, 2021 11:25 IST

ICMR New Covid Test to be Cheaper, Give Faster Results

A soon-to-be-introduced Covid-19 test developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology could cut down the cost and turnaround time by 40%. The test will be available within two weeks in airports in India and other places, ICMR-NIV said.

Dec 08, 2021 11:23 IST

Cuba's Covid Vaccines: the Limited Data Available Suggests They're Highly Effective

Cuba’s vaccine efforts have maintained a relatively low profile in the west to date. Politics may well be a reason. The US embargo against Cuba that began in the cold war is still in effect, and tensions between the countries remain high. But for those familiar with Cuba, its COVID vaccine development should come as no surprise the country has a long history of manufacturing its own vaccines and medicines. Nor should it be surprising that two of its COVID vaccines Abdala and Soberana 02 appear to have performed very well in trials. Here’s how they work. READ MORE

Dec 08, 2021 10:41 IST

India's Test Positivity Rate Below 1% for the 9th Consecutive Day

As per data released by the Centre on Wednesday, 12.13 lakh new tests were conducted over the last 24 hours, out of which 8,439 returned positive. This puts the test positivity rate at 0.70%.

Dec 08, 2021 10:24 IST

Omicron More Transmissible Than Delta: UK PM to Ministers

Early signs indicate that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible than the Delta variant currently dominant in the UK, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Cabinet ministers on Tuesday. Johnson’s official Number 10 Downing Street spokesperson told reporters in an account of the Cabinet meeting that Johnson reiterated it was still too early to draw conclusions on the wider impact of the new variant, which would depend on whether it causes severe illness. Johnson’s comments come as the UK recorded 101 more Omicron cases on Tuesday, taking the total for the variant first detected in South Africa up to 437. “The Prime Minister said it was too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron but early indications were that it is more transmissible than Delta,” the spokesperson said.

Dec 08, 2021 10:09 IST

Kerala Reports 4,656 New cases, Tamil Nadu 710, Maharashtra 699

Kerala reported 134 new deaths (including 106 backlog), Maharashtra 19, Tamil Nadu 10 in the last 24 hours.

Dec 08, 2021 10:00 IST

Thane District Logs 94 Covid-19 Cases

With the addition of 94 coronavirus positive cases, the infection count in Thane district of Maharashtra mounted to 5,70,056, an official said on Wednesday. These new cases were reported on Tuesday, he said.

Dec 08, 2021 09:33 IST

Omicron Variant Has Split Into 2 Lineages; 'Nothing to Fear' Says Expert

The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529), which has been designated by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern, has reportedly split into two lineages BA.1 and BA.2. While a variant is a viral genome (genetic code) that may contain one or more mutations, a lineage is a group of closely related viruses with a common ancestor. Health experts, however, assure that there is no need to be worried about the new lineages for now, a Times of India report said. READ MORE

Dec 08, 2021 09:31 IST

India Reports 8,439 New Cases, 195 Deaths in the Last 24 hours

India Reports 8,439 New Cases, 195 Deaths in the Last 24 hours

Dec 08, 2021 09:23 IST

No Tall Claims, Testing Ashwagandha's Effects on Covid Vaccination after Nod by Top Scientists: AYUSH Official

Amove to test Ashwagandha for improving the protection given by vaccines against the novel coronavirus is not based on a hypothesis, and has been cleared by the country’s top scientists, the chairman of the interdisciplinary AYUSH Research and Development Task Force on Covid-19 told “Even if Ashwagandha performs moderately well in these clinical trials, it will be a big global achievement,” said Dr Bhushan Patwardhan. READ MORE

Dec 08, 2021 09:18 IST

Swiss Group Lights 11,288 Candles for Covid-19 Victims

More than 11,000 candles – one for each Swiss victim of the coronavirus pandemic – lit up the December darkness outside the Swiss parliament in Bern on Tuesday. “We want to create a space to remember and mourn the victims,” Simon Gehren of the “Corona-Mahnwache” (corona vigil) movement told Reuters. Around 40 volunteers helped light the candles arranged geometrically on the square that is Switzerland’s political centre. The group organised a similar event last year.

Dec 08, 2021 08:52 IST

Assam Reports 150 New Covid-19 Cases, One Death

The number of fresh coronavirus infections in Assam declined to 150 on Tuesday as against 182 on the previous day, a National Health Mission (NHM) bulletin said. The new cases were detected from 22,239 samples, less than 36,201 clinical examinations conducted on Monday. The bulletin said the positivity rate dipped from 0.50 per cent on Monday to 0.45 per cent during the day. The number of active cases currently in the state is 1,218 as against 1,197 on Monday.

Dec 08, 2021 08:45 IST

Bengal Logs 507 New Covid Cases, 9 More Deaths

West Bengal on Tuesday reported 507 new COVID-19 cases, 42 more than the previous day, with the tally rising to 16,20,229, a health department bulletin said. Kolkata and North 24 Parganas accounted for 258 fresh cases, it added. Nine new fatalities due to the infection raised the death toll to 19,562, it said.

Dec 08, 2021 08:37 IST

Omicron Variant 'Almost Certainly' Not More Severe Than Delta, Says Anthony Fauci

Top US scientist Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that while it would take weeks to judge the severity of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, early indications suggested it was not worse than prior strains, and possibly milder. Speaking to AFP, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor broke down the knowns and unknowns about Omicron into three major areas: transmissibility, how well it evades immunity from prior infection and vaccines, and severity of illness. READ MORE

reinfected but that would act as natural vaccine,” he said adding Covid could be downgraded from pandemic to endemic in five to six months.

Americans are lining up for booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines at a record pace, with concerns about the newly-detected Omicron coronavirus variant spurring millions to get shots, the U.S. government said on Tuesday. In India, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday said the company is looking at slashing monthly production of vaccines by at least 50 per cent as there are not enough orders for Covishield from the central government. SII has written to the government to seek clarity on its requirement, if any, for normal two doses for eligible people in the country and also on booster doses.

“I am actually in a dilemma that I never imagined… we are producing 250 million doses a month but the good news is that India has covered up a large part of its population and we would have completed all our orders to the Ministry of Health in a week’s time,” Poonawalla said in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

Meanwhile, scientists say they have identified a “stealth” version of Omicron that cannot be distinguished from other variants using the PCR tests, a Guardian report said. This stealth version, first spotted among Covid virus genomes submitted in recent days from South Africa, Australia and Canada, lacks a particular genetic change that allows lab-based PCR tests to be used as a rough means of flagging up probable cases. The finding came as the number of cases of the original Omicron variant detected in the UK rose by 101 to 437 in a single day and Scotland announced a return to working from home.

India on Monday removed Bangladesh, ad added Ghana and Tanzania to the list of “at risk” countries, from where passengers have to follow additional Covid-19 testing and quarantine measures. The list now comprises countries in Europe, including the UK, and South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tanzania and Israel.

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