New coronavirus strain doesn't affect potential of vaccines, says government
The new strain of the coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom has no impact on the potential of emerging vaccines, the government said on Tuesday. The new strain has created a stir worldwide after UK authorities said it is around 70% more infectious. India's Health Ministry has said the mutations to the spike protein might make the new strain—Variant Under Investigation (VUI)-20212/01—more infectious.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr. VK Paul said the vaccines being developed will not be impacted. There is no change in treatment guidelines due to this mutation, he said adding that the new strain has not been seen in India so far. Dr. Paul said there is no need to panic, but called for more vigilance.
Dr. Paul said, "As of now, based on our discussions, deep understanding of data available, and our deep assessment, there is no need to panic but it is a cause to be more vigilant. This new challenge we have to counter with our comprehensive efforts." He said, "The new strain...has increased transmissibility. This mutation is not affecting the severity of the disease."
As of Tuesday morning, India reported 1,00,75,116 COVID-19 infections, including 1,46,111 deaths, 2,92,518 active cases, and 96,36,487 recoveries. Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there has been a decrease in average daily new cases in the past seven weeks. "It is after almost 5.5 months that we have less than 3 lakh active COVID-19 cases in the country," Bhushan said.
The UK has reported a mutated and "more infectious" strain of the coronavirus. Citing rising infections in and around London, the UK has imposed the most stringent lockdown since March. Several countries, including India, have temporarily suspended air travel with the UK. The Health Ministry has also issued standard operating protocols (SOPs) in response to the emergence of a new coronavirus strain.