Prof K. Vijay Raghavan addressing a press conference on Tuesday.
Prof K. Vijay Raghavan addressing a press conference on Tuesday.

No evidence that vaccines will not work against new COVID-19 variants: Centre

ANI | Updated: Dec 29, 2020 18:18 IST

New Delhi [India], December 29 (ANI): COVID-19 vaccines will work against new variants of the virus detected in the UK and South Africa and there is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against these coronavirus variants, Prof K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India, has said.
The government said that the UK variant of the virus is more "transmissible".
"Vaccines will work against the variants detected in the UK and South Africa. There is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against these COVID-19 variants. The UK variant of the virus is more "transmissible"," Raghavan said in a press conference.
Stating that there are concerns as most vaccines target the Spike protein, in which there are changes in the variants, he said: "Vaccines stimulate our immune system to produce a wide range of protective antibodies. The changes in the variants are not sufficient to make the vaccines ineffective."
The official asserted that extra precautionary measures are must to prevent these kinds of variants to dominate our population.
There are six COVID-19 vaccines in different clinical trial stages in India. Besides, three vaccine candidates are in pre-clinical trial stages. Pfizer, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have sought emergency use authorisation of their COVID-19 vaccines.
The United Kingdom became the first country in the world to administer the new coronavirus vaccine developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech. Canada, Mexico, the US are among the countries that later approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for their citizens.

The PSA further said that the government was conducting testing and sequencing of samples from international travellers as well as samples of those being admitted to hospitals.
"8 of the 17 important changes are in the part which codes for the Spike protein. One change, N501Y, increases affinity for the ACE2 receptor, used for viral entry into human cells. N501Y has been linked earlier to increased infectivity and transmission in animal models," the Union Health Ministry said.
"Another change, P681H, promotes entry into susceptible cells, and increases transmission in animal models of infection. South Africa also shares the N501Y mutation with the UK variants, in addition to other distinct changes," it added.
Raghavan asserted that people should reduce transmission through physical distancing and follow all public health measures scrupulously.
Taking a strong step as a precaution against the virus strain first detected in the UK, the Central government has temporarily suspended all flights coming from the UK with effect from the midnight of December 23 till December 31, 2020.
Six UK returnees have been found positive for the new UK variant coronavirus genome in India.

The Union Health Minister stated that samples of three UK returnees have been tested and found positive for new UK strain in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune.
All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Health Care facilities by respective State Governments. (ANI)