Health ministry to meet today to discuss new COVID strain in UK

The joint monitoring group comprising officials from AIIMS, ICMR and WHO will discuss the issue and make a recommendation to the Union Health Ministry

Coronavirus
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A senior advisory body of the Union Health Ministry will hold an urgent meet on Monday (December 21) to discuss the new strain of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.

This comes a day after Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that COVID-19 vaccination may begin by January 2021.

According to reports, the meeting will be attended by experts from AIIMS and ICMR as well as from WHO.

“The Joint Monitoring Group headed by the Director-General of Health Services will be discussing this issue (of the UK strain) and make a recommendation to the Union Health Ministry. Besides experts from AIIMS, ICMR, and the WHO, the meeting will also be attended epidemiologists and experts from outside the government,” Indian Express quoted a source as saying.

On Sunday, Vardhan said that the government could initiate vaccinations by January, adding that the first priority will be “safety and effectiveness of the vaccines”.

“I personally feel may be in January in any stage or any week, there can be a time when we can be in a position to give the first COVID vaccine shot to the people of India,” Harsh Vardhan told ANI.

Related news: There may not be a second COVID peak in India: Experts

“Our first priority has been the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. We don’t want to compromise on that,” he said adding that in six to seven months the government will be able to inoculate around 30 crore people.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has sought additional data from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech on late-stage trials to consider their vaccines for clearance.

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium in a report on Saturday reported about a mutation in novel coronavirus.

Many countries in Europe have halted flights to and from Britain in view of the new development. While countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have banned flights to and from Britain, Italy is expected to follow suit. India, however, is yet to take any decision in this regard.

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