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The new variant of coronavirus circulating in the UK is unlikely to affect India's vaccine strategy as the vaccines being developed are expected to be effective against the new strain, and re-infections said, experts.
The experts also informed that the vaccine candidates under regulatory evaluation in India included shots with various other components, apart from spike protein, and this would help the vaccines maintain their efficacy.
As the new variant of the virus has led to a ban on international flights and raised serious concerns, epidemiologists in India maintained the view that mutations were common to viruses and people must continue to take all necessary precautions.
"Although such infections are rare, and onward transmission from them presumably even rarer, they are not improbable given the ongoing large number of new infections," Times of India quoted the UK report as saying.
According to Dr Suneela Garg, professor of excellence and president of Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, the mutated virus is 1.7 times more infective.
Dr Garg said that the new strain could also affect those who have been exposed to COVID-19 already. But the symptoms are likely to be mild. Dr Garg also said that the mutation might not affect the effectiveness of vaccines under development.
N K Ganguly, former Director-General of ICMR, said, "To get more information on the epidemiology, and spread of the new strain of the virus, molecular sequencing needs to be carried out, as it was done previously for the poliovirus."
He further remarked that it is important to carry out smart testing as well as tracing to track the spread of the new variant and contain its spread so that it does not reach vulnerable communities.
A World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that people could protect themselves from the new variant of the coronavirus by following social distancing rules and maintaining practices like washing hands regularly and wearing masks.
Kerkhove informed that the reproduction rate of the new variant has increased from 1.1 to 1.5.
"We do not anticipate any impact on the vaccine and the vaccination," said Kerkhove. She also informed that WHO and doctors in the UK have set up a surveillance system to study the new variant.
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