Health ministry says severity of new strain in the country could be low because of vaccination and widespread exposure to Delta variant.
India’s health ministry says the severity of COVID-19 disease from the Omicron variant in the country could be low due to vaccination and widespread exposure to the Delta variant that infected nearly 70 percent of the population by July.
“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low,” it said in a statement on Friday. “However, scientific evidence is still evolving.”
India on Friday reported 9,216 new COVID-19 infections after announcing its first two Omicron cases the previous day. Deaths rose by 391, bringing the total to 470,115. Total COVID-19 cases have now reached 34.62 million, health ministry data showed.
The ministry said the cases involved two men in the southern Karnataka state, a 66-year-old man who had travelled to India from South Africa and a 46-year-old doctor.
Researchers are trying to confirm whether this makes it more transmissible or lethal than Delta, and are also just how effective existing vaccines will be. Since announcing the first two cases yesterday, a number of other samples have been flagged as possible Omicron cases, including two in Tamil Nadu.