New Delhi (NVI): Covid vaccines will work against the new variants of coronavirus and there is no evidence that the current vaccines will fail to protect against the new Covid variants reported from the UK and South Africa, the Government said today.
Addressing a press conference here, Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan said that concerns have been raised about new SARS-CoV2 variants detected in the UK and South Africa but there is no evidence that current virus will fail to protect against them.
“Most vaccines to target the Spike protein, in which there are changes in the variants. But vaccines stimulate our immune response to produce a wide range of protective antibodies. The changes in the variants are not sufficient to make the vaccine ineffective,” he said.
However, Raghavan said that there is a need to take precautions to prevent such variants from dominating the population.
According to reports, the mutated versions of the coronavirus detected in the UK and South Africa are significantly more transmissible than other known strains.
In addition to this, the Principal Scientific Advisor said that Indian SARS-CoV2 genomics consortium will do testing and sequencing of samples from international travellers from across the country and from those being admitted to hospitals.
Also present in the briefing, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said, “It is important that we do not put too much immune pressure on the virus by which it will tend to mutate more.”
He said this can be done by judiciously using the therapies which are going to benefit and stop using those therapies if their benefits are not established.
“Vaccines that are front runners are targeting S protein and also the mRNA. We find that they will continue to be effective from the available data. We have to be careful about any immunity break-through that may happen during vaccination,” Dr Bhargava said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that prior to the news of UK variant came in, roughly 5,000 genome sequences have already been done in the country.
“Now we will significantly increasing that number and would be working in a coordinated manner in the shape of the consortium,” Bhushan said while referring to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a consortium of 10 regional government labs established by the Centre across the country.
The labs will get samples from all the States and UTs across the country to do genome sequencing of all Covid-19 positive flyers who arrived in India from December 9 to 22.
Apart from that, the Health Secretary said that the daily new COVID-19 cases are less than 17,000 after 6 months now. Daily deaths are also less than 300 after 6 months.
“Analysis shows that 52% COVID-19 cases are in the 18-44 years age group and 63 percent of the COVID patients are males,” he said.
55% deaths are found to have occured in the 60 years and above age group and 70% of the deaths have occurred to males, he said.
India still figures amongst the lowest in the world in terms of cases per million population, which is 7,408 and active cases per million population, which is 194.
110 new cases and 2 deaths per million have been reported in the last 7 days. Five States/UTs account for 60% of total active COVID-19 cases in the country are Maharashtra, Kerala, WestBengal, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Secretary said.