92% third wave deaths among unvaccinated: govt

Ninety-two per cent of all Covid-19 deaths during the omicron-driven surge were among unvaccinated people, Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research Dr Balaram Bhargava said Thursday.

“During 2022, 92 per cent of the deaths have been (among) the unvaccinated. This is data from three databases with more than 94 crore population. The Indian graph is very much lower than the other countries, many of them developed countries (referring to graphs on cases and deaths in various countries). Why did we see less cases and deaths during the omicron surge? We had our own vaccines, we had extremely excess production, we had a rapid deployment, we had tremendous amount of vaccine acceptance (which resulted) in wide scale coverage of the vaccine and ultimately protected India.”

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About 32,900 Covid-related deaths have been registered this year. According to government’s figures then, over 30,000 of these would be unvaccinated people.

At the end of 2021, nearly 65 per cent of the adult population, more than 60 crore people, had received both doses of the vaccine, while over 84 crore had received at least one dose. That left about 10 crore adults in India — the adult population is estimated to be 94 crore — without vaccination.

A significant proportion of the below-18 population was also infected during the Omicron wave, much higher than the previous two waves. This age group was entirely unvaccinated at the start of the third wave.

The government’s figures point to remarkable effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious diseases and deaths, something that has been emphasised repeatedly by health experts and scientists. That means it would be in the interest of people to get their booster doses as well. As of now, only about two crore people have received the ‘precautionary’ third dose. But that is mainly because only few groups are currently eligible for the precautionary doses.There has been a 96.4 per cent decline in Covid-19 cases since the peak of the omicron wave during the January 19-25 week, and a decline of 76.6 per cent in deaths since it peaked a couple of weeks after the cases, said the Union Health Ministry in a briefing on Thursday.

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