Vaccine candidates under regulatory evaluation in India include scenarios containing many other components besides spike protein – which is related to this particular strain – and this will help vaccines maintain their effectiveness.
While the new variant has raised a warning, epidemiologists in India say mutations are common to viruses and that people should continue to wear masks to maintain physical distance and hand hygiene. “Now there is no reason to worry. Every virus changes its genetic makeup. This virus has a very low mutation rate,” said Dr Raman Gangaketkar, a former chief scientist at ICMR.
According to hypotheses put forward by the Confederation of the United Kingdom, abnormal genetic variation (one of the mutations) in the B1.1.7 lineage may have resulted in the evolution of the virus with a person who has been infected for a long time. “While such infections are rare and even rare to spread from them, they are unlikely due to the number of new infections that currently exist,” the report said.
Experts said the mutation may be in India and tests are needed to verify it. According to Dr. Sunila Cork, a distinguished professor and head of the Indian Association for Prevention and Community Medicine, the mutant virus is 1.7 times more contagious. “It can affect even those who have already suffered a stroke, but the symptoms can be mild,” he said.
Dr. Cork said this mutation does not affect the effectiveness of vaccines under development. Although reports from the UK indicate that the new strain is 70% more contagious, experts here say it may not be as viral. “Even if the spread is high, the strain will not cause serious problems,” Dr Gangaketkar said.
“Like the polio virus, molecular sequencing of the virus and getting more information about its epidemiology and spread is the way forward. It is important to pursue smart testing and tracking and to diversify its reach so that it does not reach the affected communities, ”said NK Ganguly, former Director General of ICMR.
However, some experts say the government needs to step back and identify, rather than suspend flights. “We need to evaluate the evidence backwards from the discovery. It is important to find the missing cases, their connections and related eruptions,” said Giridhar R. Babu, a member of the National Task Force for Govt-19 and an epidemiologist at the Public Health Trust of India.
Take a look Govt-19: Experts say the new variant is unlikely to affect India’s vaccination strategy