COVID Vaccines Possibly Less Effective Against Indian Variant, Says German Health Official

The COVID-19 variant first identified in India has been classified as a "variant of concern" by Britain and the World Health Organization.

The currently available COVID-19 vaccines could be less effective against the coronavirus variant that was first found in India, the chief of Germany’s public health agency said on Friday, referring to initial studies.

However, the level of knowledge was still very poor and he hoped for better data within two weeks, said Lother Wieler at a news conference.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said that Germany was currently reassessing its travel recommendations for Britain, which is currently listed as a risk region becase the spread of that variant there has caused concern in recent days.

Earlier, top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci on Tuesday said that the vaccines currently being used by the United States would be “at least partially and probably quite protective” against coronavirus variants first detected in India.

Citing recent studies published in medical journals, Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the results are very encouraging regarding protection against the known SARS-CoV-2 variants.

“The modest neutralization resistance of B.1.617.1 variant to vaccine-elicited antibodies suggests that current vaccines will be protective,” according to the slide shared by the White House Covid-19 response team as Fauci spoke.

“The spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 and B.1.618 variants identified in India provide partial resistance to vaccine-elicited and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies,” the presentation further read.

The United States is using vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both based on mRNA technology.

The COVID-19 variant first identified in India has been classified as a “variant of concern” by Britain and the World Health Organization, meaning there is some evidence that it spreads more easily between people, causes more severe disease, or might be less responsive to treatments and vaccines.

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