Why most Indians may be protected from Omicron

News Network
November 30, 2021

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A “very large” number of Indians are likely to remain protected from Omicron or any other variant of Covid-19 and there is no need to panic, eminent virologist Dr Shahid Jameel has said.

Jameel, who is the former head of the advisory group to the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INASACOG), said people must be cautious and keep wearing masks.

"While we should be cautious, there is no need to panic. India's second wave due to the Delta variant was huge, infecting more people than we imagined. This is reflected in the fourth National Sero-survey that showed 67 per cent of Indians to have Covid antibodies. That is about 930-940 million people at a time when the vaccination levels were very low, and so it came mainly from infection," he said in an interview.

"More recently, Delhi showed 97 per cent with antibodies, Mumbai around 85-90 per cent and so on. All this means that a very large fraction of Indians will be protected from severe disease caused by Omicron or any other variant," Jameel said.

A new variant of Covid-19, feared to have a high amount of spike mutations, has been detected in South Africa. On November 26, the WHO had designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and named it Omicron.

Speaking on the effectiveness of vaccines against the new variant, Jameel said more data is awaited but vaccine effectiveness against the variant may dip by a few points. However, vaccines will not become useless, he said.

"We don't have this data available yet. It may take another one to two weeks for the first laboratory results to become available. My hunch is that vaccine effectiveness against this variant may dip a few points, but vaccines will not become useless. They will continue to protect from severe disease," he said.

On how India can prepare to tackle the new variant, he said people should not panic, and continue to wear mask while the government should increase the rate of vaccination.

"We are fortunate to have sufficient vaccines and the ability to vaccinate. Along this line, it may help to reduce the duration between two doses of Covishield from 16 weeks to 12 weeks. This will get more people vaccinated quickly, especially those in vulnerable age groups (elderly), those with comorbidities and those in high risk occupations (health care)," he said.

On what role a booster dose of vaccine can play against the new variant to tackle waning immunity against Covid-19, he said booster shots help, but it is more important to first get more people vaccinated with two doses.

"Further, about 90 per cent of doses in India are Covishield, and this has limited use as a booster. For that we will need either RNA, DNA or protein vaccines. For the moment, just make sure more and more people get the two doses," he said.

Responding to reports claiming that the variant mainly affects people below 25 years of age, he said there is no data available on the subject.

"So far, the few known patients are in this age group. I doubt it will pose a bigger threat to children who naturally have no or mild disease to this virus," Jameel said.

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News Network
April 14,2024

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Tehran: Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has launched “extensive” retaliatory missile and drone strikes against the occupied territories in response to the Israeli regime’s terrorist attack of April 1 against the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic premises in the Syrian capital Damascus.

The Corps announced launching the strikes in a statement on Saturday night, defining the mission as "Operation True Promise."

“In response to the Zionist regime’s numerous crimes, including the attack on the consular section of Iran’s Embassy in Damascus and the martyrdom of a number of our country’s commanders and military advisors in Syria, the IRGC’s Aerospace Division launched tens of missiles and drones against certain targets inside the occupied territories,” the statement read.

Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, meanwhile, warned that “Whatever country that could open its soil or airspace to Israel for a [potential] attack on Iran, will receive our decisive response.”

The Israeli attack had resulted in the martyrdom of Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, his deputy, General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, and five of their accompanying officers.

The terrorist attack drew sharp condemnation from senior Iranian political and military leaders, who vowed "definitive revenge."

During a speech in Tehran on Wednesday after leading the Eid al-Fitr prayers, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the Israeli regime “must be punished and will be punished” for the deadly strike on the Iranian diplomatic premises.

The Leader added, “The evil Zionist regime committed another mistake ...  and that was the attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria. The consulate and diplomatic missions in any country are considered to be the territory of that country. When they attack our consulate, it means they have attacked our soil."

In a subsequent statement, the IRGC said the retaliation came after 10 days of "silence and neglect" on the part of the international organizations, especially the United Nations Security Council, to condemn the Israeli aggression or punish the regime in line with Article 7 of the UN Charter.

Iran then resorted to the retaliatory strikes, the Corps added, "using its strategic intelligence capabilities, missiles, and drones" to attack "targets of the Zionist terrorist army in the occupied territories, successfully hitting and destroying them."

The statement, meanwhile, warned the United States -- the Israeli regime's biggest supporter -- that "any support or participation in harming Iran's interests will result in a decisive and regrettable response by the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic."

"Furthermore, America is held responsible for the evil actions of the Zionist regime, and if this child-killing regime is not restrained in the region, it will bear the consequences," it noted.

The Corps concluded the statement by cautioning third countries against letting their soil or airspace be used for attacks against the Islamic Republic.

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coastaldigest.com news network
April 10,2024

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Mangaluru, Apr 10: Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the coastal city of Mangaluru and other parts of coastal Karnataka today observed Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of 29-day-long blessed month of Ramadan. 

The occasion falls on the first day of the 10th lunar calendar month of Shawwal, the start of which varies based on the sighting of the new moon.

Braving the scorching sun, Muslim men and children - and in some parts women too - thronged Eidgahs and mosques to express gratitude to their Creator by offering Eid prayers after distributing Zakat and Fitr among the poor and needy.

While praying for the acceptance of their month-long fasting and charity among other deeds, the imams also prayed for the acceptance of sacrifices of people of Gaza wherein Israel regime’s bloody war claimed thousands of lives including children and women in past six months.

Twaqa Ahmed Musliyar, the Qadhi of Mangaluru, led the Eid prayers and delivered the sermon at the historic Eidgah mosque at Lighthouse Hill. “We have fasted for a month to comply with the command of the Almighty. Let us also lead a pious life in the remaining 11 months of the year,” he said.

He exchanged Eid greetings with the devotees and called upon them to remember the lesser privileged people and needy during the festivities. “We have a social responsibility towards the poor and needy. As long as we attend to their problems, God's blessings will continue to shower upon us,” he said.

Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker U T Khader and several people’s representatives offered prayers at Eidgah mosque. Volunteers from Zeeanth Bhaksh masjid helped the police in maintaining traffic and discipline.

Children dressed in festival attire added colour to the celebrations. People wished Eid Mubarak and hugged each other.

The Eid prayers were held in all prominent mosques across the city. Taqwa Masjid in Pumpwell, Masjidunnoor in Hampankatta, Ihasan Masjid near Unity Hospital, Bolar Islamic Centre in Bolar, Ibrahim Khaleel Masjid near State Bank, Jamia Masjid in Kudroli and Kachi Memon Masjid in Bunder were overcrowded with devotees. Several thousand devotees offered prayers at Central Juma Masjid in Ullal on the outskirts of the city.

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News Network
April 7,2024

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Purulia: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday alleged the central investigating agencies were asking TMC leaders to either join the BJP or face action.

Addressing an election rally in Purulia district, she alleged agencies such as the ED, CBI, NIA and the I-T Department were working as 'arms' of the BJP.

"Agencies such as the NIA, ED and CBI are being used to harass TMC leaders. They are carrying out raids without prior information, and barging into houses. What the women would do if someone entered their house when everyone was asleep in the dead of night?" she asked.

Banerjee was referring to Saturday's incident in Bhupatinagar where a team of the NIA was attacked by a mob when it went to arrest two accused in a blast case.

"The agencies are asking our leaders and activists to either join the BJP or face action," she alleged.

Asking people not to fall for any provocation, Banerjee alleged the BJP was fanning communal passions during Ram Navami.

The chief minister also accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of depriving West Bengal of funds for MGNREGA and PM-Awas schemes.

She said the state government will provide Rs 1.2 lakh for building houses for the poor.

"The EC will not give permission to us to give the money now. After the elections, we will construct the houses of the poor," she said.

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