Aaditya Thackeray gives Centre 3 suggestion to tackle Omicron surge
Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray on Tuesday wrote to the Centre highlighting three suggestions to tackle the looming threat posed by the coronavirus variant called Omicron. The suggestions include allowing vaccine booster shots, reducing the dose gap, and bringing down the cut-off age for inoculations to 15. Thackeray said the suggestions were made after proper consultation with doctors and "those observing the COVID-19 situation closely."
Why does this story matter?
Thackeray's suggestions came as Maharashtra has reported 10 Omicron cases—the most for any Indian state. First detected in South Africa, Omicron is the most heavily mutated strain of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It is feared to be more transmissible, even though the symptoms appear to be mild. The spread of the variant across states has concerned authorities that have stepped up containment measures.
What are Thackeray's suggestions?
In his letter to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Thackeray suggested that all healthcare and frontline workers should be allowed a third jab "at their studied desire." Notably, healthcare and frontline workers were vaccinated on first priority early this year. He also suggested slashing the minimum vaccination age to 15. This would ensure "vaccine protection" for secondary schools and junior colleges, he said.
'Reduce dose gap to expedite vaccinations'
Further, Thackeray suggested reducing the gap between two doses of COVID-19 vaccines to expedite coverage. Mumbai's first dose and second dose coverage are at 100% and 73%, respectively, he said. With a reduced dose gap of four weeks, Mumbai can achieve 100% second dose coverage by mid-January 2022, he said. For Covishield—used to vaccinate most Indians—a dose gap of 84-112 days is recommended.
No decision on additional vaccine jabs yet
The central government's panel on COVID-19 vaccinations reportedly failed to take a call on "additional" COVID-19 vaccine jabs on Monday. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) could not reach a consensus on additional doses after a three-hour-long meeting, sources told PTI. Additional doses are meant for immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals who do not get adequate protection from primary inoculations.
India's Omicron tally reaches 23
India's total cases of Omicron variant has reached 23 after two more cases detected in Mumbai on Monday. The first two Omicron cases in India were reported from Karnataka, followed by one each in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Later on Sunday, Omicron cases were also reported from Delhi (one), Maharashtra's Pune (seven), and Rajasthan's Jaipur (nine).