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Home / News / India /  Will Covishield, Covaxin be effective against new variant Omicron? Here's what ICMR expert says
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Amid growing concerns over the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, Dr Samiran Panda, Head, Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division, (ICMR) said that right now the scientific evidence suggests the new variant contains many more mutations and the existing vaccines may be less effective and will likely have to be tweaked. 

Dr Panda said that only time will tell along with follow up observations in terms of what's happening, infection as well as vaccines and the kind of immunity they produce.

He said, “mRNA vaccines are directed towards spike protein and receptor interaction, so mRNA vaccines need to be tweaked around this change already observed. But not all vaccines are similar, Covishield-Covaxin produce immunity through a different antigen presentation to our system."

“Time could tell but there are different kinds of vaccines. Some directed towards spike protein of virus which gets attached to receptor. So, if changes happened there, vaccines might not be effective," Dr S Panda said. 

He further added, “it's a matter of time but there's a possibility but only time would tell along with follow up observations in terms of what's happening, infection as well as vaccines and the kind of immunity they produce."

Meanwhile, the genomic sequencing of infections in South Africa found that the variant B.1.1.529 contained many more mutations than the dominant delta variant. More worrying, some of the mutations occur in the area of the spike protein that is targeted by antibodies. That could mean existing vaccines will be less effective, something we should know with more certainty in the coming weeks.

The World Health Organisation dubbed the variant omicron and has called it a “variant of concern," which signifies it contains genetic changes that are known to affect transmissibility, disease severity or evade vaccines and therapies. Certainly, omicron’s transmissibility seems extremely high and there are questions about whether the new variant may change the effectiveness of vaccines. 

 

 

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