Coronavirus Updates: Bharat Biotech Seeks Nod to Test Its Nasal Vaccine as Booster for Those Jabbed with Covaxin, Covishield

India’s Omicron counts rose to 158 after Maharashtra reported six and Gujarat logged four more cases of the new variant.

By: News Desk

Last Updated: December 20, 2021, 23:29 IST

In the last 24 hours, India reported 6,563 new cases, 132 deaths and 8,077 recoveries. The active caseload stands at 82,267- lowest in 572 days, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci warned of a bleak winter ahead as the Omicron coronavirus variant spurs a new wave of infections globally, sparking restrictions and concerns over overwhelmed healthcare facilities. In the past 24 hours, Read More

Dec 20, 2021 22:49 IST

No Covid-19 Death in Mumbai for 4th Time This Month

For the fourth time in December, Mumbai did not report any fresh fatality due to coronavirus on Monday, keeping the death toll unchanged at 16,365, while 204 new cases took the infection count to 7,67,331, civic officials said. A day after Mumbai logged 336 COVID-19 cases, the number of daily cases came down to 204, while the daily fatalities slipped to zero in the last 24 hours from two on Sunday.

Dec 20, 2021 21:13 IST

Doctor Who First Detected Omicron Warns Variant ‘Quite Transmissible’

South African Medical Association Chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, who was the first to detect the Omicron, on Monday said that the new Covid-19 variant is extremely transmissible. “It’s quite transmissible; if I look at Delta, it seems less but it’s very transmissible. In South Africa we don’t see severe cases, it’s mostly mild cases,” Dr Coetzee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Dr Coetzee’s statement comes two days after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said the delta variant of coronavirus is still the dominant strain circulating among infections in India and Omicron has not replaced it yet.

Dec 20, 2021 21:12 IST

Tamil Nadu Records 605 Coronavirus Cases, 6 Fatalities

Tamil Nadu on Monday recorded 605 new COVID-19 positive cases and six deaths due to the infection, thus taking the total number of cases reported till date to 27,40,411 and the toll of fatalities to 36,686. Three passengers who returned from UAE, a passenger each from Ghana and the UK, who tested positive, added to the 605 fresh infections, according to a bulletin from the Health Department. With 697 COVID-19 positive patients getting discharged after treatment today, the total recoveries so far has increased to 26,96,553. The number of active cases, including those on isolation, as on today remain at 7,172, the bulletin said.

Dec 20, 2021 20:09 IST

No Clear Evidence Yet on Omicron's Transmissibility, Immune Evasion: INSACOG

There is no clear evidence yet on the transmissibility, immune evasion or severity of Omicron in India, said Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) in its latest bulletin while noting that the variant continues to grow rapidly as a variant of concern globally. The bulletin, dated December 13 and published on Monday, said public health measures and investigations are being conducted to look into the new variant. “At this time, there is no clear evidence regarding transmissibility, immune evasion, or severity in India,” INSACOG said. It further said that while the Delta variant, including its B.1.617.2 (AY) and AY.x sublineages, continues to be the main variant of concern globally, Omicron continues to grow rapidly.

Dec 20, 2021 19:50 IST

Cases Mostly Mild in South Africa: South African Doctor

“I’ve seen 100 patients myself. It’s quite transmissible; if I look at Delta, it seems less but it’s very transmissible. In South Africa we don’t see severe cases, it’s mostly mild cases,” South African Medical Association Chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee, first to detect Omicron told ANI.

Dec 20, 2021 19:47 IST

Bharat Biotech Seeks Nod for Study of Intra-nasal Covid Vaccine as Booster Dose

Bharat Biotech has sought permission from India’s drug regulator to conduct a phase-3 study for its intra-nasal COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose on participants vaccinated with Covishield or Covaxin, official sources said on Monday. India is yet to approve the use of the intranasal vaccine BBV154 developed by the Hyderabad-based company. The company had in August received the Drug Controller General of India’s (DCGI’s) nod for conducting phase 2 clinical trials of the nasal vaccine. “Bharat Biotech has put in an application seeking permission to conduct a study titled ‘A Phase 3 Study to Evaluate the Safety and Immunogenicity of BBV154 and BBV152 as third dose (booster) to participants previously vaccinated with SARS-CoV-2 vaccines’,” an official said.

Dec 20, 2021 18:32 IST

Bharat Biotech Seeks Nod to Test Its Nasal Vaccine as Booster Shot

Bharat Biotech has sought permission from DCGI to conduct Phase-3 clinical trials for its nasal vaccine to be used as a booster dose for those jabbed with Covaxin and Covishield. The company has also sought permission to conduct trials with 5,000 subjects to be concluded in 3 months, sources said.

Dec 20, 2021 18:12 IST

Gujarat Extends Night Curfew in 8 Major Cities

Gujarat government has announced to extend the night curfew hours in 8 major cities till December 31. The night curfew will remain effective between 1 am and 5 am, ANI reported. Three new cases of Omicron were detected in the state on Sunday- one each in Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, taking the total tally to 11.

Dec 20, 2021 18:02 IST

World Economic Forum to Defer its Annual Meeting in Davos

World Economic Forum will defer its Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in the light of continued uncertainty over #Omicron outbreak. The Meeting was scheduled to take place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland between 17-21 Jan, 2022. It’s now planned for early summer, WEF said.

Dec 20, 2021 17:29 IST

Covid Vaccines Can Be Tweaked for Protection Against New Variants: AIIMS Director

he COVID-19 vaccines can be “tweaked” to provide protection against new variants of the virus, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, Director Dr Randeep Guleria has said. His remarks have come in the wake of concerns over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. “Although there is this new variant of COVID-19, the silver lining is that it does seem to be a milder disease and we should have protection as far as the vaccine is concerned. And I think it is important to remember that vaccines can be tweaked,” Dr Guleria said.

Dec 20, 2021 16:47 IST

Rafael Nadal Tests Positive for Covid-19 After Abu Dhabi Event

Rafael Nadal has tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Spain after making his comeback from injury in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week, the Spaniard said on Monday. “I am having some unpleasant moments but I hope that I will improve little by little. I am now homebound and have reported the result to those who have been in contact with me,” Nadal said in a statement.

Dec 20, 2021 16:43 IST

Moderna Says Its Booster Dose Raises Antibody Levels 37-fold Against Omicron

Moderna Inc said on Monday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine appeared to be protective against the fast-spreading Omicron variant in laboratory testing and that the current version of the vaccine would continue to be Moderna’s ”first line of defense against Omicron.” The company said a two-dose course of its vaccine generated low neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant, but a 50 microgram booster dose increased neutralizing antibodies against the variant 37 fold. A higher, 100 microgram booster dose of the same vaccine drove antibody levels even higher – more than 80 times pre-boost levels.

Dec 20, 2021 16:19 IST

All Covid-positive Samples to Be Sent for Genome Sequencing: Kejriwal

Amid the Omicron scare and the growing number of coronavirus cases in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said all samples that test positive for the infection will now be sent for genome sequencing. He also urged the Centre to allow the administration of booster shots to the fully vaccinated city residents. The chief minister appealed to people not to panic and wear masks as they are the most effective protection against the virus. “For the last few days, COVID-19 cases are increasing in the city. Yesterday (Sunday), it was over 100. We don’t know what type of Covid cases these are, normal or the Omicron variant. So, to ascertain this we have now decided to send the samples of all positive cases for genome sequencing,” Kejriwal said at a press conference.

Dec 20, 2021 15:29 IST

Germany Considers Contact Restrictions to Soften Looming Covid Wave

Tougher contact restrictions and an accelerated booster campaign are among measures being considered by German leaders ahead of a meeting on Tuesday aimed at softening the blow of a fifth wave of coronavirus infections. The government’s scientific advisory panel said in a statement on Sunday it was necessary to further limit contact, with data so far showing that boosters alone would not be enough to contain the spread of the virus. The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Hendrik Wuest, did not rule out contact restrictions on people who have been fully vaccinated or had a booster shot.

Dec 20, 2021 14:54 IST

Vienna Commemorates Pandemic Victims with 'Sea of Lights'

Tens of thousands of Vienna residents turned out Sunday night to participate in a “sea of lights” commemoration for the more than 13,000 Austrians who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. The event, supported by dozens of civil society organizations, drew more than 30,000 people, according to Austrian media. They organized a chain of more than 13,000 candles stretching around Vienna’s central ring road, one for each person who died in Austria, and observed a moment of silence.

Dec 20, 2021 14:38 IST

No Evidence Omicron has Lower Severity than Delta Variant: UK Study

There is “no evidence” that Omicron has a lower severity than the Delta strain, according to a study in the UK which also found that the new variant of coronavirus largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses. The study by researchers from Imperial College London in the UK estimates that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times greater than that of the Delta variant. This implies that the protection against reinfection by Omicron afforded by past infection may be as low as 19 per cent, the researchers said. “The study finds no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection, the authors of the study said.

Dec 20, 2021 14:27 IST

All Covid Positive Cases to be Sent for Genome Sequencing: Kejriwal

Amid Omicron threat, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said all new positive cases of coronavirus being reported in the city will be sent for genome sequencing even as he appealed to the Centre to allow booster dose for health workers and others. He said there is no need to panic in view of the Omicron variant. For the last few days COVID-19 cases are increasing in the city. Yesterday (Sunday), it was over 100. We don’t know what type of Covid cases are these, normal or the Omicron variant. So to ascertain this we have now decided to send the samples of all the positive cases for genome sequencing, Kejriwal said in a press conference.

Dec 20, 2021 14:20 IST

We Urge Centre to Allow Booster Doses: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

Dec 20, 2021 14:20 IST

We Urge Centre to Allow Booster Doses: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

Dec 20, 2021 14:20 IST

We Urge Centre to Allow Booster Doses: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

after nearly six months Delhi recorded over 100 Covid-19 cases, while Mumbai reported 321 fresh cases.

Fauci told NBC, “One thing that’s very clear… is (Omicron’s) extraordinary capability of spreading, It is just… raging through the world.” Fauci also cautioned against too much optimism over Omicron’s severity, noting that in South Africa, while the hospitalization-to-case ratio is lower than with Delta, this could be due to underlying immunity from widespread previous infections.

Meanwhile, India’s Omicron counts rose to 153 on Sunday after Maharashtra reported six and Gujarat logged four more cases of the new variant. According to central and state officials, omicron cases have been detected in 11 states and union territories — Maharashtra (54), Delhi (22), Rajasthan (17) and Karnataka (14), Telangana (20), Gujarat (11), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (1), Chandigarh (1), Tamil Nadu (1) and West Bengal (1). Six persons tested positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Maharashtra on Sunday, raising the state’s tally of such cases to 54.

In an attempt to contain the Omicron spread, Israel’s health ministry Sunday recommended banning Israelis from travelling to the United States and added several European countries to its Covid “red list”, aimed at containing the Omicron variant’s spread.

While experts all over the world are recommending booster shots, a council — comprised of Germany’s top virologists and health officials — said omicron “brings a new dimension to the pandemic developments.” The council recommended speeding up Germany’s booster vaccination program as the country has already fully inoculated 70.2% of its population, and 30.3% have received a booster shot.

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