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COVID-19: Vaccines May Need Regular Updates As Coronavirus Evolves, Say Scientists

The study, published in the journal Virus Evolution, assessed whether, over the long term, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to demonstrate an immune evasion capability on par with that of influenza viruses

COVID-19: Vaccines May Need Regular Updates As Coronavirus Evolves, Say Scientists
Highlights
  • Like influenza virus, coronaviruses also escape the immune system: Experts
  • The novel coronavirus genome is mutating rapidly: Experts
  • There are numerous coronavirus variants floating across the world: Experts

Berlin: Scientists have assessed the course of evolution of the novel coronavirus and predicted that COVID-19 vaccines currently in use across the world may need regular updates to counter new variants of the virus which are capable of escaping the body’s protective antibodies. The study, published in the journal Virus Evolution, assessed whether, over the long term, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to demonstrate an immune evasion capability on par with that of influenza viruses. In the research, virologists from Charite — Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany studied the genetic evolution of the four currently known ‘common cold’ coronaviruses, particularly the two longest-known viruses, 229E and OC43.

Also Read: No Proof COVID Second Wave Due To Virus Variants, But It Is Possible: Virologist Shahid Jameel

They traced changes in the spike protein of these coronaviruses, which enable them to enter host cells, approximately 40 years into the past. Based on the analysis, the scientists found one feature which was common to both the coronaviruses and the influenza virus — all three had a pronounced ladder-like shape in their evolutionary paths.

An asymmetrical tree of this kind likely results from the repeated replacement of one circulating virus variant by another which carried a fitness advantage, explained the study’s first author, Wendy K. Jo.

According to Jo, this is evidence of ‘antigenic drift’, a continuous process involving changes to surface structures which enable viruses to evade the human immune response.

It means that these endemic coronaviruses also evade the immune system, just like the influenza virus. However, one also has to look at the speed with which this evolutionary adaptation happens, she added.

The scientists said the novel coronavirus genome is currently estimated to change at a rate of approximately 10 mutations per 10,000 base molecules per year, meaning the speed at which it evolves is substantially higher than that of the endemic coronaviruses.

This rapid genetic change in SARS-CoV-2 is reflected in the emergence of numerous virus variants across the globe. This, however, is likely due to the high rates of infection seen during the pandemic. When infection numbers are so high, a virus is able to evolve more rapidly, explained study co-author Jan Felix Drexler.

Based on the rates of evolution seen in the endemic common cold coronaviruses, the scientists believe SARS-CoV-2 will start to change more slowly once infections start to die down.

Once a large proportion of the global population has developed immunity either as a result of infection or through vaccination. We expect therefore that COVID-19 vaccines will need to be monitored regularly throughout the pandemic and updated where necessary, Mr. Drexler explained.

According to the virologists, vaccines are likely to remain effective for longer once the pandemic reaches this stable situation.

Also Read: When To Take Second Dose Of The COVID-19 Vaccine, How To Register For It, Government Answers These And Other Questions

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,06,78,961Cases
20,23,40,977Active
3,34,39,331Recovered
48,98,653Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,06,78,961 and 48,98,653 have died; 20,23,40,977 are active cases and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 4:17 am.

India

3,40,81,315 13,596Cases
1,89,6946,152Active
3,34,39,331 19,582Recovered
4,52,290 166Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,81,315 confirmed cases including 4,52,290 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,89,694 and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,91,697 1,715

32,230 994

64,19,678 2,680

1,39,789 29

Kerala

48,54,321 7,555

88,186 3,292

47,39,270 10,773

26,865 74

Karnataka

29,83,459 326

9,479 58

29,36,039 380

37,941 4

Tamil Nadu

26,87,092 1,218

14,814 208

26,36,379 1,411

35,899 15

Andhra Pradesh

20,60,472 432

6,034 159

20,40,131 586

14,307 5

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,028 9

119 10

16,87,011 19

22,898

West Bengal

15,80,530 624

7,421 24

15,54,132 634

18,977 14

Delhi

14,39,390 32

320 6

14,13,981 38

25,089

Odisha

10,35,077 443

4,542 68

10,22,250 508

8,285 3

Chhattisgarh

10,05,654 16

183 2

9,91,901 14

13,570

Rajasthan

9,54,390 2

42 2

9,45,394 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,290 10

207 6

8,15,997 16

10,086

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,684 5

84 12

7,82,077 17

10,523

Haryana

7,71,076 15

123 9

7,60,904 6

10,049

Bihar

7,26,026 5

48 4

7,16,317 1

9,661

Telangana

6,68,955 122

3,924 55

6,61,093 176

3,938 1

Assam

6,06,468 205

3,436 46

5,97,082 245

5,950 6

Punjab

6,02,035 27

227 8

5,85,264 16

16,544 3

Jharkhand

3,48,430 7

122 1

3,43,173 8

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,756 9

178 1

3,36,181 8

7,397

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,062 95

843 12

3,25,793 107

4,426

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,437 131

1,303 5

2,16,414 125

3,720 1

Goa

1,77,522 60

604 6

1,73,572 62

3,346 4

Puducherry

1,27,396 52

585 13

1,24,961 64

1,850 1

Manipur

1,22,737 104

1,422 0

1,19,418 102

1,897 2

Mizoram

1,12,848 249

11,633 1,143

1,00,829 1,389

386 3

Tripura

84,321 16

104 4

83,401 12

816

Meghalaya

82,953 55

845 32

80,673 86

1,435 1

Chandigarh

65,302 3

25 3

64,457 6

820

Arunachal Pradesh

54,987 7

140 30

54,567 37

280

Sikkim

31,749 4

174 8

31,184 12

391

Nagaland

31,611 40

248 12

30,689 28

674

Ladakh

20,878 2

36 10

20,634 12

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,676 1

4 1

10,668

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,641

9 0

7,503

129

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