Thursday, 29 July 2021

Third Sitting of the Subcommittee for monitoring the epidemiological situation due to the presence of the infectious disease COVID-19

At the sitting held on 29 July 2021, the members Subcommittee for monitoring the epidemiological situation due to the presence of the infectious disease COVID-19 discussed the current epidemiological situation as regards the registered new coronavirus strains and the effectiveness of the available vaccines against the new strains.

The Subcommittee members were addressed by virologist Dr Aleksandra Knezevic on behalf of the Belgrade Faculty of Medicine, who spoke about the appearance of new strains. She said that the presence of delta i.e. Indian strain was proven in late June. Dr Knezevic stated that the analysis conducted on the genomes of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, have determined that the virus has changed i.e. mutated. Consequently, the criteria for the strains were defined, referring to the frequency of transmission and the impact on clinical features, on therapy and on vaccination. Based on these four criteria, the strains are divided into strains of concern, strains of interest and strains of corresponding consequence. The first group – strains of concern, is comprised of four types: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Dr Knezevic spoke about the delta strain, which produces more viruses than the alpha or British strain. She said that the delta strain is specific because it has a group of mutations on the s-protein that binds to our cells. This facilitates binding and increases transmission leading to a significantly higher production of the virus compared to the British strain, which further facilitates transmission, as evidenced by studies according to which it exhibits a 50 to 60% higher transmission than the British strain.

On behalf of the Institute for Public Health Batut, the attending were addressed by epidemiologist Dr Vladan Saponjic and the director of the Institute Dr Verica Jovanovic. They talked about the effectiveness of all four available types of vaccines on different strains of the coronavirus. They pointed out that about 5,600,000 doses had been administered on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and about 2,900,000 people have received the first dose, which is about 49.7% of the target population. Dr Verica Jovanovic said that the effect of achieving the largest possible coverage of the population decreases over time and it is the job of the entire society to motivate citizens to get vaccinated. Speaking about receiving the third dose of the vaccine, she said that initially, the most sensitive part of the population will be covered by the third dose.

Dr Vladan Saponjic spoke about the extremely small percentage of corona infection after receiving both doses of vaccines. He said that it is necessary to restart the vaccination campaign and to allow vaccination-related privileges, as well as impose restrictions.

Subcommittee Chairperson Dr Dragana Barisic spoke about the importance of holding sittings about combating the coronavirus and the importance of vaccination outside the seat of the Committee on Health and the Family so as to raise awareness in local communities on these issues.

Speaking of it, the Chairman of the Committee on Health and the Family Dr Darko Laketic mentioned the Municipality of Merosina a good example with the percentage of vaccination going from nine to over 30 after the Committee held a sitting there.

In the course of the discussion, Subcommittee members Rajka Matovic, Dragana Brankovic Mincic, Prof. Dr Aleksandra Pavlovic Markovic and Dr Darko Laketic, were informed in more detail about the vaccination among special categories of the population, such as workers in health and education and students.

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