The Indian government on Monday offered 'Made in India' vaccine supply and other help to the countries, especially those in Africa which are dealing with new Covid variant 'Omicron' in Africa, either bilaterally or via Covax scheme.
"The Government of India stands ready to support the countries affected in Africa in dealing with the Omicron variant, including by supplies of 'Made in India' vaccines. Supplies can be undertaken through Covax or bilaterally," said the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The Central government in this regard has cleared all orders placed so far by Covax for supplies of Covishield vaccines, including to African countries like Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Guinea and Lesotho, the MEA added.
"We have also cleared supplies of Covaxin to Botswana. Any new requirement projected either bilaterally or through Covax will be considered expeditiously," said the Ministry in a statement, adding that India also stands ready to supply essential life-saving drugs, test kits, gloves, PPE kits and medical equipment such as ventilators, as may be required.
Indian institutions would favourably consider cooperation in genomic surveillance and virus characterisation-related research work with their African counterparts.
The Union government has so far supplied more than 25 million doses of Made in India vaccines to 41 countries in Africa, including nearly one million doses as grant to 16 countries and more than 16 million doses under the Covax facility to 33 countries.
The new Covid variant -- Omicron -- was first reported to World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 24, 2021. With the emergence of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Dr. Angelique Coetzee—the South African physician who first raised alarm about the mutant—said on Sunday that the symptoms caused by it have been mild so far. She also added that patients could be treated at home.
Since Made-in-India vaccines are proved to be effective 50% or more even for the Delta variant that has killed more people than any other variant this year, the new Omicron variant is likely to be dealt more effectively with the use of these vaccines, said experts. However, WHO is yet to confirm the outcome of these assertions.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, who is also the chair of the South African Medical Association, averred that the symptoms noted in the patients at her clinic have been different from those caused by other variants of concern (VOCs) such as the Delta variant. This includes no reports of loss of smell or taste.
However, the other manifestations observed are "very mild". "The most predominant clinical complaint is severe fatigue for one or two days. With them, the headache and the body aches and pain," Dr. Coetzee told a news outlet.
(With inputs from IANS)