Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India

  • India on Wednesday reported 161,386 new cases and 1,733 deaths. The cumulative amount is 41,630,885 (1,621,603 active cases) and 497,975 deaths.
  • Worldwide: More than 377.97 million cases and more than 5.69 million deaths.
  • Immunization in India: More than 1.67 billion doses. Worldwide: More than 10.08 billion doses.
Vaccine budget cut
Vaccine budget cut
  • The Union Budget presented by the Minister of Finance on Tuesday slashed the Covid-19 vaccination budget for fiscal year 2022-23 by 85% from last year, showing that the expansion of the booster dose program has limit.
  • Rs 5,000 crore has been earmarked for the Covid-19 vaccination program for fiscal year 2023, compared with Rs 39,000 crore expected to be spent on vaccines as of 31 March this year.
  • The budget document attributes the cuts to “lower requirements for vaccines.” To date, India has administered 1.67 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 75% of the adult population fully vaccinated. The government has also recently rolled out booster doses – or “precautionary doses” – for healthcare workers and vulnerable people. Recently, vaccines for children have also been developed.
  • The lower vaccine budget suggests that the booster dose program, if extended to the entire population, would have to be funded from other expenditures or would have to be paid to recipients.
  • “The budget does not reflect the intention of providing free vaccines to all,” said R. Ramakumar, professor of development economics at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. told The Telegraph. “But that doesn’t mean they won’t do it. For the Centre, the amount needed, around Rs 25,000 crore or Rs 30,000 crore, is small enough to be picked up somewhere later. But it would upset the budget problem, it would have to be drawn from some other scheme. “
Preliminary data suggest BA.2 impact ‘not likely to be significant’: WHO
Preliminary data suggest BA.2 impact 'not likely to be significant': WHO
  • The emerging BA.2 version of the Omicron coronavirus variant is rapidly replacing the original strain in many parts of the world, but Initial data suggests its impact is “not likely to be significant” Boris Pavlin, a field epidemiologist leading the WHO’s Covid-19 response team.
  • Tell me more: Pavlin said BA.2 has become the leading cause of Covid-19 infections in Denmark, the Philippines, Qatar and India and has soon become dominant in several other countries.
  • He added that based on direct clinical comparisons in countries such as Denmark, BA.2 infection does not appear to be more severe than any case caused by BA.1. While a larger number of infections can lead to more hospitalizations simply because too many people are sick, Pavlin said that in countries where BA.2 has become dominant, “We haven’t seen any higher-than-expected swelling on admission yet.”.
  • However, hospitalizations and deaths are late indicators and it may be too early in the life cycle of BA.2 to observe these types of increases.
  • And vaccinations? Data from the UK and Denmark show that the vaccine is effective against BA.2 as well as against BA.1.
  • Omicrons are very effective at disrupting vaccine protection and causing disease, although boosters greatly increase that protection. The effectiveness of the vaccine against symptoms increases from about 13% to about 70% two to three doses for BA.2 and the original strain of Omicron.
  • Pavlin notes: Vaccination is more effective at preventing serious outcomes like hospitalization and death. “The vaccination doesn’t do a very good job of preventing infection with Omicron, but it continues to prevent severe disease almost as much as it did with Delta, so vaccination is still very important,” he said.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh Nippun Singh
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