Government assures vaccine will work against new COVID-19 strainLast updated on Dec 29, 2020, 07:06 pm
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will not work against the new strain of the coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, six returnees from the United Kingdom were found to be carrying the new variant, which is said to be around 70% more infectious. The government has stepped up surveillance measures in light of this development.
'Vaccines produce wide range of antibodies'
Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan said, "There is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against COVID-19 variants reported from the UK or South Africa."
He said that most vaccines target the spike protein, however, they produce a wide range of protective antibodies.
The new variant has also not been found to make COVID-19 more severe, he added.
Travelers who reached India between December 9-22 to be tested
Separately, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that all international travelers who arrived in India during the last 14 days (December 9-22, 2020) would be subjected to genome sequencing if they are symptomatic and have tested positive for the virus.
Last week, the government had unveiled detailed guidelines for the tracking and isolation of the new coronavirus variant.
New variant may have its own run: VK Paul
NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr. VK Paul warned that the new variant "may have its own run" and we have to be very careful.
"The major population is still susceptible to COVID-19 infections in this cold weather," he said.
Indian Council of Medical Research Director-General Balram Bhargava said it is important to not put immune pressure on the virus, causing it to mutate more.
Two-day dry run for vaccination drive conducted smoothly: Health Ministry
The Health Ministry also said that the two-day dry run for the vaccination drive was completed smoothly with minor hiccups.
The exercise was conducted in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Gujarat.
It was aimed at testing the end-to-end vaccination delivery process to identify challenges and work toward resolving them.
India is hoping to start vaccine delivery by early 2021.
How bad is the outbreak in India?
As of Tuesday morning, India reported 1,02,24,303 COVID-19 cases, with 16,432 new cases being recorded over a 24-hour period—the lowest single-day spike in six months.
The total cases include 2,68,581 active cases, while 98,07,569 patients have recovered.
The death toll has risen to 1,48,153 with 252 fresh fatalities.
India is the world's second worst-hit country in the outbreak after the United States.