India added 15,102 new coronavirus infections in a single day, while the active cases dipped below two lakh after 50 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The active cases were at 1,64,522 (0.38%) and the daily positivity rate at 1.28%. While 278 Covid-19 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,12,622. The country also reported 31,377 in the last 24 hours, as per the updated data. The cumulative vaccines administered in the country was reported to reach 1,76,19,39,020.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday announced that the BA.2 variant of the Omicron coronavirus strain is not more severe than the original. Based on a sample of people from various countries, “we are not seeing a difference in severity of BA.1 compared to BA.2,” Maria Van Kerkhove, a senior WHO official, said in an online question and answer session.
“So this is a similar level of severity as it relates to risk of hospitalisation. And this is really important, because in many countries they’ve had a substantial amount of circulation, both of BA.1 and BA.2,” she said. Van Kerkhove, who leads the technical side of the WHO’s Covid-19 response team, was reporting the findings of a committee of experts tracking the evolution of the virus.
Their conclusions will come as a relief to countries such as Denmark, where the BA.2 variant of Omicron has circulated widely. The WHO said in a statement that initial data suggests the new BA2 variant “appears inherently more transmissible than BA.1,” and that further studies are ongoing to discover why this is the case.
“However the global circulation of all variants is reportedly declining,” it added. Coronavirus has killed more than 5.8 million people worldwide, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Tuesday. Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the true death toll could be two to three times higher.
More about Omicron
The Omicron variant has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on studies that shows it has several mutations. Still a lot of research is underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk. The Omicron variant has been detected in several regions of the world. WHO reports that the likelihood of the Omicron variant spreading further globally is high. It is not currently known if the Omicron variant is more or less severe than other strains of COVID-19, including Delta. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available. It is not yet clear whether Omicron can spread more easily from person to person compared to other variants, such as Delta. However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we know these actions have been effective against other variants. Researchers are looking into any potential impact the Omicron variant has on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Although information is still limited, WHO believes it is a reasonable assumption that the currently available vaccines offer some protection against severe disease and death. It is also important to be vaccinated to protect against the other widely circulating variants, such as the Delta one. When it’s your turn, make sure to get vaccinated. If your vaccination involves two doses, it’s important to receive both in order to have the maximum protection. According to WHO, early evidence suggests that people who have previously had COVID-19 could be reinfected more easily with Omicron, in comparison to other variants of concern. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available. Source: UNICEF
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