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Covishield, Covaxin Work Against SARS-Cov-2’s Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta Variants: Government

ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said reduction of neutralisation capabilities of vaccine with different variants shows that Covaxin does not change with the Alpha variant at all and so it is same as it is with the standard strain

Covishield, Covaxin Work Against SARS-Cov-2's Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta Variants: Government
  • Delta Plus variant has also been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV: Centre
  • The Delta variant has about 15-17 mutations: Centre
  • We must avoid mass gathering, use masks correctly: Centre

New Delhi: Vaccines Covishield and Covaxin work against SARS-CoV-2 variants Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, while effectiveness tests against the Delta Plus variant is ongoing, the government said on Friday (June 25). There are four variants of concern of the coronavirus disease — Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta — with Delta Plus being a sub-lineage of the Delta variant which is also a variant of concern.

Also Read:Zydus Cadila’s COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Over 12 Years Expected By August: National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation Chief

Addressing a press conference, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said reduction of neutralisation capabilities of vaccine with different variants, which is based on global literature, shows that Covaxin does not change with the Alpha variant at all and so it is same as it is with the standard strain.

Covishield reduces slightly with Alpha, by 2.5 times. For the Delta variant, Covaxin is effective but antibody response is slightly reduced to three-fold reduction, and for Covishield, it is two-fold reduction, while in Pfizer and Moderna it is seven-fold reduction. However, Covishield and Covaxin work against the variants of SARS-CoV-2- Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta — that is well established for these two vaccines, he said.

Talking about the Delta Plus variant, Mr Bhargava said it is present now in 12 countries. There are 48 cases in India in 10 states but they are very localised, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief added.

The Delta Plus variant has also been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV, and laboratory tests to check vaccine effect on Delta Plus variant are ongoing. We should have these results in seven-10 days as to whether the vaccine is working against the Delta Plus variant, he said.

Also Read:Availability Of COVID Vaccine For Kids Will Pave Way For School Reopening: AIIMS Chief

The Delta variant has about 15-17 mutations and was first reported in October last year, and it was responsible for more than 60 per cent of cases in Maharashtra in February. It has spread to 80 countries, Bhargava said. The B.1.617 strain has three subtypes – B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3 — and B.1.617.2 (Delta variant) has been classified as a variant of concern and it has increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response and potential post-vaccination immune escape, he said.

The B.1.617.2 Plus or Delta Plus variant, detected in different parts of India, characterisation of which are ongoing (three mutations), Mr Bhargava said. There are 16 countries where more than 25 per cent of cases of Delta variant have been found, he said. These are Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Myanmar, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States of America. Bhargava said that the second wave of COVID-19 is not yet over.

We have still got 75 districts which have more than 10 per cent prevalence. We have 92 districts which have between five-10 per cent prevalence and 565 districts are less than five per cent prevalence so in large part of India second wave is over, he said.

However, these districts are important and it is possible to avert the third wave provided individuals and society adhere to protective behaviours, Mr Bhargava said.

We must avoid mass gathering, use masks correctly and consistently, and any indicative hotspots we find they need to be immediately identified that is what we have done with Delta Plus variant, and isolated people and vaccination has been initiated for these people and district level test positivity rate is posted on the health ministry website, he said.

Data needs to clearly monitored by districts to ensure if the rate is going beyond five per cent, the ICMR chief said.

Then we need to impose strict restrictions and that is the most important point that will guide us through the pandemic, he added.

Mr Bhargava said public health prevention strategies do not change with variants.

COVID appropriate behaviour and vaccination has to continue but continuous monitoring of mutations is important to track vaccine escape, increased transmissibility and disease severity. The next step is, if need be, vaccine composition can be changed as per the circulating variants of interest and variants of concern that can also be done with RNA vaccines and adenovirus-based vaccine can also be modified, he said.

Also Read:Over 50 Per Cent Of Mumbai Children Have COVID-19 Antibodies As Per Sero Survey: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation

(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 currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) 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, fightmalnutrition, 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 wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene.

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