New Delhi: Center on Monday began a dry run in four states -- Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab -- for COVID-19 immunisation. The effort is to check roll-out procedures, preparedness, cold storage, transportation arrangement and management of possible adverse events after vaccination etc as the government gets set to give license to vaccine companies for launching their products in India.
India on Monday recorded a 7 per cent jump in daily fresh cases with 20, 021 new detections as overall cases of COVID-19 crossed 1.02 crore. The deaths so far has been about 1.48 lakh out of which 279 fatalities were in the last 24 hours. India's COVID-19 recoveries rose to 97,82,669 on Monday and it exceeded active cases by more than 95 lakh.
Meanwhile, the Task Force on Genome Sequencing has suggested Epidemiological Surveillance of all passengers who have arrived in India since November 23. In addition, 5 per cent samples of all daily detected COVID-19 positive cases in the states and UTs will be sent for genome sequencing. In case the UK variant or any other variant mutation is detected in any sample, the virus will be sent to notified COVID Virus Repositories for isolating the virus and further culturing.
“The sudden outbreak of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant in the UK requires India to increase viral Genomic surveillance in order to understand the spread of the virus in a rapid and robust manner. The proposed Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium will help to expand whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 virus across the nation, aiding our understanding of how the virus spreads and evolves. Any changes to the genetic code, or mutations, can be observed in the samples,” the Task Force said in a report.
“The data from the genome sequencing laboratories will be analyzed as per the field data trends to study the linkages (if any) between the genomic variants and epidemiological trends. This will help to understand super spreader events, outbreaks and strengthen public health interventions across the country to help in breaking the chains of transmission. Linking this data with the IDSP epi data and patient’s symptoms will allow us to better understand the viral infection dynamics, morbidity and mortality trends. Further, the data can be linked with host genomics, immunology, clinical outcomes and risk factors for a more comprehensive outlook,” it added.
The overall aim of the Genomics Consortium or the Task Force is to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis. In the present scenario, it will try to ascertain the current status of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01) in the country, establish a sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implication and determine the genomic variants in the unusual events/trends (super-spreader events, high mortality/morbidity trend areas etc.)
The Union Home Ministry said the COVID-19 restrictions on various activities will continue till January 31, 2021.
"While there has been a continuous decline in the active and new COVID-19 cases, there is need to maintain surveillance, containment and caution, keeping in view the surge in cases globally, and emergence of a new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom (UK).
Accordingly, Containment Zones continue to be demarcated carefully; prescribed containment measures strictly followed within these zones; COVID-appropriate behaviour promoted and strictly enforced, and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed in respect of various permitted activities followed scrupulously," MHA said in a statement. The ministry added that the focused approach on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) need to be enforced strictly by States and UTs.