Maharashtra has so far recorded 91 cases of the KP.2 variant of Omicron, including 51 in Pune, the health department said on Monday, reported news agency PTI.

State`s genome sequencing coordinator, Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, said this is in addition to JN.1, KP.2 and KP.1.1 sub-variants of Omicron that have been recorded in Maharashtra. He said both KP.2 and KP.1.1 are sub-lineages of JN.1, reported PTI.

Thane has recorded 20 cases of KP.2 sub-variant of Omicron, seven each in Amravati and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, two in Solapur and one each in Sangli, Latur, Ahmednagar and Nashik, he added, reported PTI.

The health department said Maharashtra on Monday recorded six new cases of COVID-19 with three each in Mumbai and Pune city.

Meanwhile, in March, Maharashtra experienced a slight increase in cases, with an average of around 250 detections, which is likely attributed to the spread of the KP.2 variant.

Earlier, as British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca recalled its Covid-19 vaccine globally, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) said it stopped the manufacturing and supply of additional doses of Covishield in December 2021.

AstraZeneca has voluntarily withdrawn the “marketing authorisation” of its Covid vaccine, sold as Covishield in India and Vaxzevria in Europe.

In a statement to IANS, an SII spokesperson said that with India achieving high vaccination rates in 2021 and 2022, coupled with the emergence of new mutant variant strains, the demand for previous vaccines diminished significantly.

“Consequently, since December 2021, we have stopped the manufacturing and supply of additional doses of Covishield,” the spokesperson added.

The Serum Institute said that they fully understand the ongoing concerns and “it`s crucial to emphasise our commitment to transparency and safety”.

The company said that from the outset, “we have disclosed all rare to very rare side effects, including Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, in the packaging insert in 2021”.

Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS) is a rare side effect that can cause people to have blood clots and a low blood platelet count, linked to at least 81 deaths in the UK as well as hundreds of serious injuries.

The SII stressed that despite the challenges faced during the global pandemic, the safety of the vaccine remains paramount.

“Regardless of whether it`s AstraZeneca`s Vaxzervria or our own Covishield, both vaccines have been instrumental in saving millions of lives worldwide.

“We commend the collaborative efforts of governments and ministries in facilitating a unified global response to the pandemic,” added the Serum Institute.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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