The recently sequenced Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has reached much of Europe and India, with dozens of cases being found.
Preliminary research has so far pointed to the fact that it is more transmissible, yet less potent than other variants of the virus, and that previous history of coronavirus does not necessarily confer immunity.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Professor Khafeel Khan, a former lecturer in paediatrics at the BRT medical college confirmed the presence of Omicron in India, stating that it was increasing by a factor of five daily. Professor Khan cautioned that vaccinations were important, but that mask wearing and social distancing also needed to be continued.
Professor Khan also praised India’s vaccination drive, which has seen over a billion people provided a single dose of vaccine, but cautioned that many weren’t fully vaccinated. Further, he expressed scepticism over the Indian Covaxin vaccine, which the Lancet Medical Journal concluded was only around 50% effective in preventing the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Similar to most of the world, he argued that vaccine hesitancy was also a huge issue, as was the case with previous vaccines, including Polio.
Lastly, Professor Khan argued that despite the political issues, there was no discrimination in vaccine provision, and that people in rural areas were being easily provided vaccines, since India had long established channels for vaccinations, which had already been in place for previous vaccinations, since the 1980s.