New Covid-19 strains: India conducts vaccine efficacy test

New Strains of virus enter India

Juhi Seernani

The efficacy of the two Indian vaccines against the new strains of Covid-19 is being tested in order to understand if they can fight the virus or not. Pfizer announced today that they have tested the strains in the laboratory and the South African variant of the coronavirus may reduce antibody protection from their vaccine by two-thirds.

It is very unclear if the various shots will be effective towards the mutations that are now coming up frequently from all around the world.

The South African strain of the coronavirus has been detected in four people in the country and the Brazil variant has been seen in one, according to top medical body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The ICMR announced that the South African variant of the deadly virus is being isolated and cultured at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.

Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, director of National Centre for Disease control said that the South African variant might have public implications.

The sample blood of people who have already been vaccinated is being tested in various labs so that the anticipated damage can be prevented and the vaccines can be monitored in such a way that they develop efficacy towards the various mutations.

“The government is being “grossly negligent” and “over confident” about the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said today on twitter.

He also said that even though the country is witnessing a dip in the number of cases, the pandemic is not over yet.

The ICMR chief, Dr Balram Bhargava said that India currently has 187 patients who have been infected with the UK variant of the Covid-19 virus. There have been no mortalities among the people infected with the UK variant.

“All confirmed cases are quarantined and treated. Their contacts have been isolated and tested. Neutralisation potential with the UK variant of the virus is there with the vaccine that we have,” Dr Balram Bhargava said.

The Brazil variant of the virus is rather dangerous as it has explosively spread in Brazil and the numbers have increased.

“While we don’t *know* exactly why this variant has been so apparently successful in Brazil, none of the explanations on the table are good,” epidemiologist Bill Hanage at Harvard University wrote on Twitter.

“There are no direct flights from South Africa or Brazil, so the health ministry and the civil aviation ministry are in touch on the steps to be taken on the matter,” he said.

The Health Ministry stated that the rules for travellers from the UK – Covid negative reports and RT-PCR tests for every passenger – are likely to be followed for flights from South Africa and Brazil.