New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The third wave of Coronavirus has started and a large number of cases in India are being reported from big cities, the head of the country's vaccine task force, Dr. NK Arora told NDTV. According to the report, Dr. Arora said 75 per cent share of the highly contagious Coronavirus variant Omicron is reported from major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata alone.

"Look at whatever the variants have been genome sequenced... We got our first virus right in the first week of December. So, last week, nationally overall, 12 per cent of the variants identified were Omicron and the week gone by in the previous week, it has increased to 28 per cent. So, it is rapidly increasing as a proportion of all the Covid infections in the country," said Dr Arora who has been closely involved with the vaccination drive.

"Now, having said that, I must also say something more important and that is that around the major metro cities, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and particularly Delhi, it is over 75 per cent of all the isolates now," he added.

Further, talking about the much-dreaded third wave of Coronavirus Dr. Arora said that the third wave is already here. He also added that the third wave was driven by the new variant of COVID-19 which was first detected in South Africa. This is supported by evidence from the last four-five days that saw "galloping increase in the number of cases", said Dr Arora. "India is clearly in the third wave of COVID-19. And the whole wave seems to be driven by a new variant and today it is Omicron," he told NDTV.

Addressing another important concern that the vaccines being given to 15-18 age group could be unsafe for them as the doses had their shelf life extended, Dr. Arora said "It is absolutely safe. See, initially when the vaccines were being produced, the overall shelf-life issues were available only for that period when the studies were being done. Now, today, with the experience and the time, since when the vaccine was produced, the shelf-life has been evaluated through various animal studies. And it clearly shows that the vaccine is effective and active potency is maintained up to 12 months."

So far India has reported 1,700 Omicron cases, with Maharashtra reporting the most number of infections at 510. The country has also seen a 22 per cent jump in new COVID-19 cases, as shown in the government data.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha