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Amid reports of possible side-effects of the Oxford-AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine and its suspension in some European nations, the Central Government has asserted that Covishield is safe and there is "no signal of concern" regarding it as of now.

The Adverse event following immunization committee, which closely keeps track and records AEFI, has "concluded that thrombosis events due to Covishield in India is not a problem".

In response to a query at a press meet, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul said, "There is no signal whatsoever for this concern. Covishield is safe, please proceed with its scale-up and uptake. We want to assure that there is no risk of blood clotting-related complications that were suspected in some nations with Covishield."

ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava has said that both Covishield and Covaxin are effective against the UK and the Brazilian variants.

He was asked if the vaccines that are being used right now in India are effective against the three new variants of concern -- the UK variant, South African variant and the Brazilian variant.

"It is well established by research studies in published literature that the vaccines available in our country -- both Covishield and Covaxin -- are effective against the UK and the Brazilian variants.

"The research work regarding the South African variant is ongoing at the moment," he added.

Paul urged the people not to doubt the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.

"Please don't spread doubt. As of today, these vaccines work on the good old virus as well as the new variants," he said.

He appealed to people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and use vaccination as a tool to battle this second peak.

However, scientists also believe that the UK and Brazilian strains are more contagious and that each also have the potential to re-infect those who had been previously infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

India's total cases of mutant Covid-19 strains reach 795

Meanwhile, the total number of cases with the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants of SARS-CoV-2 in India has reached 795, the Union Health Ministry has said.

From 400 cases reported on 18 March, the infections by mutant strains have increased to 795 in the country.

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told Rajya Sabha on 16 March that no case of reinfection by mutant variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been reported from India so far.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in the three countries where the pandemic is being driven by the variant mutants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, namely the UK, South Africa and Brazil, the South African and Brazilian variants have the potential to reinfect persons who have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, he said in a written reply.

The UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first reported in India on 29 December.

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