There is a sense of assurance with the availability of many Covid-19 vaccines and comprehensive vaccination services all over the world.
However, the pandemic of Coronavirus has not yet stopped. Hundreds of people worldwide including India have been infected with the extremely contagious virus.
A South African variant has already entered India as the central government disclosed the infection of several citizens. The most important issue is: Will Covid-19’s variant hamper India’s biggest vaccination drive?
According to a TOI report, “The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was informed that Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) was in the process of isolating and culturing the South African variant in its lab. The NIV has already readied a culture of the Brazilian variant for testing.”
Can Covaxin, Covishield Prevent Covid-19?
The Government of India has approved the version of Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the Serum Institute of India’s Oxford-AstraZeneca. In a pre-print study, Bharat Biotech reported that Covaxin is able to produce an immune response to the UK version.
However, according to a study by The Indian Express, Bharat Biotech did not release any information concerning the efficacy of Covaxin in the South African version.
The government of South Africa has reported that the Covishield based Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine has ‘limited’ efficacy against the South African variant.
“Serum samples drawn from those who have received the vaccines in India will be used in the lab to test if they can neutralise the two variants that recently entered India,” Dr Samiran Panda, head of ICMR’s epidemiology and communicable diseases division told Times of India.
The South African version is known as 501.V2, while P.1 has been tagged as the Brazilian one. So far, India has recorded four positive cases with the South African Covid-19 variant and one with the Brazilian variant.
“It is not necessary that a variant that is more transmissible will turn out to be more virulent. Another question to ask is whether they are associated with rapidly spreading outbreaks,” Dr Panda said.
The South African and Brazilian versions have consequences for public health, said Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control.
“For one, the Brazilian variant is believed to be more transmissible and it may have the ability to evade antibodies,” he said.
Studies show the South African variant too is more transmissible.