Dr Mande said vaccines are absolute, and it is difficult to comment as of now about the age group at high risk from this new variant.
New Delhi: Following the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron', which has led to travel bans and new restrictions in many countries across the world, DG Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Shekhar C. Mande said that India is observing the situation in other countries, and added while the situation is a cause of concern, it is not alarming.
"The surveillance is on like it always is. So, if the virus reaches India we will come to know. We are observing the situation in other countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and of course hotspot South Africa and it is a bit concerning but I would not say alarming. It is concerning because it has accumulated a large number of mutations. The WHO has said 'Omicron' accumulated more than 30 mutations, 26 of which are unique in the spike protein which isn't observed in any other strains alpha, beta, gamma, delta or something like that," said Mande.
Talking about the age group at the highest risk from the new variant and the importance of vaccination, Mande said, "It is difficult to comment as of now about the age group at high risk from this new variant."
"Vaccines are an absolute must. Those people who have not received a double dose of vaccine must get vaccinated as soon as possible," he added.
"If you look at the history of all the infectious diseases, it does happen that viral disease, particularly initially, causes pandemics and over a period of time they become endemic. Endemic means will keep coming every year, but in a much milder form," he explained.
He further added, "We are working closely in coordination with Principal Scientific Advisor of the Government of India. We have also prepared ventilation guidelines that people can follow, it actually reduces the risk of transmission to some extent."
The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529), a new coronavirus variant, was first reported in Botswana on November 11, 2021, and appeared on November 14 in South Africa.