Journal of the Scientific Society

: 2021  |  Volume : 48  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 119--120

COVID-19: Continues to be a matter of health concern

Rajendra B Nerli1, Shridhar C Ghagane2,  
1 Department of Urology, JN Medical College, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, JNMC Campus, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Biotechnology, KAHER‟s Dr. Prabhakar Kore Basic and Applied Science Research Center, V. K. Institute of Dental Sciences Campus, Belagavi, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shridhar C Ghagane
Department of Biotechnology, KAHER‟s Dr. Prabhakar Kore Basic and Applied Science Research Center, III Floor, V. K. Institute of Dental Sciences Campus, Nehru Nagar, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Nerli RB, Ghagane SC. COVID-19: Continues to be a matter of health concern.J Sci Soc 2021;48:119-120

How to cite this URL:
Nerli RB, Ghagane SC. COVID-19: Continues to be a matter of health concern. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 20 ];48:119-120
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 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants

All viruses are known to change over time, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Many a time these changes have little or no impact on the virus's properties. However, some changes do affect the virus's properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.[1]

The World Health Organization (WHO), along with its partners, expert networks, national authorities, institutions, and researchers have been monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020. During late 2020, the emergence of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health prompted the characterization of specific variants of interest and variants of concern (VOCs) to prioritize global monitoring and research, and ultimately to inform the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]

 Omicron (B.1.1.529): Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variant

Omicron a (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. The current SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used RT-PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S-gene dropout or S-gene target failure), and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.[2]

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply and coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9, 2021.[2]

Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the technical advisory group on SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution has advised the WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.[2]

 Vaccine Effectiveness against Death from the Delta Variant

Sheikh et al.[3] reported on the vaccine effectiveness for the BNT162b2 vaccine (Pfizer – BioNTech) and the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AstraZeneca) against infection and hospitalization caused by the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Scotland. They used a Scotland-wide surveillance platform (Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 [EAVE II]) that included individual-level linked data on vaccination, testing, viral sequencing, primary care, hospital admissions, and mortality among 5.4 million people (approximately 99% of the Scottish population). Overall, vaccine effectiveness against death from the Delta variant 14 or more days after the second vaccine dose was 90% for BNT162b2 and 91% for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It is really reassuring to note that vaccination offered such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose.

 COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Dose

While the Indian Union Health Ministry has adopted a wait and watch policy, the medical fraternity has cautiously welcomed the recent observation by the WHO that people with weaker immune systems should receive an additional shot of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The recommendation followed a 4-day meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization. A final report would be issued in December. The SAGE said moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all the WHO-approved vaccines “since these individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.” People aged 60 and older who received the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines should get a third dose too, the experts added, although the use of other vaccines may also be considered depending on supply and access. “When implementing this recommendation, countries should initially aim at maximizing 2-dose coverage in that population, and thereafter administer the third dose, starting in the oldest age groups.

Given the current circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary for health-care workers and providers to take care by practicing frequent hand sanitation, wearing masks, and maintaining safe social distance.[4] Health-care workers need to be vaccinated as per the national health guidelines.[5],[6] To this end, the government has currently notified the safety measures and travel guidelines.


1World Health Organization Tracking SARS-CoV-2 Variants; November 09, 2021. Available from: [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 29].
2World Health Organization Classification of Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern; November 26, 2021. Available from: [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 30].
3Sheikh A, McMenamin J, Taylor B, Robertson C; Public Health Scotland and the EAVE II Collaborators. SARS-CoV-2 delta VOC in Scotland: Demographics, risk of hospital admission, and vaccine effectiveness. Lancet 2021;397:2461-2.
4Nerli RB, Ghagane SC. Safety of health-care workers during COVID-19 times. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res (KLEU) 2020;13:61.
5Ghagane SC, Nerli RB. Mucormycosis (Black Fungus) in COVID-19 times. J Sci Soc 2021;48:55.
6Sharma M, Ghagane SC, Muralidhar S, Patil S, Nerli NR, Nerli RB. Urological surgery in the time of coronavirus pandemic. J Emerg Pract Trauma 2020;6:98-101.