Will Covaxin, Covishield be effective against new variant Omicron? See what ICMR experts have to say

The newly emerged Covid-19 variant Omicron, which was first reported in South Africa, has become a growing concern for the whole world. This has triggered fear in India also as many states have issued guidelines for international travels. Many people are questioning whether the existing vaccines like Covishield, Covaxin will be effective against them or not.

Dr Samiran Panda, Head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division, (ICMR) has revealed that the current scientific evidence suggests Omicron has many mutations. So, the current vaccines might be less effective against this new variant and the vaccines have to be tweaked in order to work against the Omicron.

Dr Panda also said we will also have to wait and watch how the Omicron variant evolves . Only time will tell what kind of immunity the vaccines will produce.

According to reports from ANI, the expert said that mRNA vaccines vaccines might not be effective against Omicron. He said, “mRNA vaccines are directed towards spike protein and receptor interaction, so mRNA vaccines need to be tweaked around this change already observed. But not all vaccines are similar, Covishield-Covaxin produce immunity through a different antigen presentation to our system.”

“Time could tell but there are different kinds of vaccines. Some directed towards spike protein of virus which gets attached to receptor. So, if changes happened there, vaccines might not be effective,” Dr S Panda also added.

According to Dr Panda, we need to wait and see after follow up observations in terms of what’s happening, infection as well as vaccines and the kind of immunity they produce.

The World Health Organisation dubbed the new omicron variant as a “variant of concern,” which suggests that it contains genetic changes that are known to affect transmissibility, disease severity and immune-evasive. The transmissibility of the omicron seems extremely high. So, questions are rising whether the new variant may change the effectiveness of vaccines.

Meanwhile, the genomic sequencing of South Africa’s infections has revealed that the variant B.1.1.529 contained many more mutations than the dominant delta variant. It is worrying that some of the mutations happens in the area of the spike protein that is targeted by antibodies. That means the current vaccines may not affect or will be less effective against the new variant.

More information about the omicron variant will be known in the coming future.

Also Read: Scientists on alert over heavily mutated Omicron Covid variant

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