Covid-19 mutation may compel Serum Institute to make changes in vaccine composition

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 10, 2021

WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation reported limited effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (named Covishield in India), against the South African strain

Serum Institute may have to make some changes in the composition of its Covid-19 vaccine. This is to provide protection against the virulent South African strain — B.1.351 variant — of the virus, News 18 reported.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) reported limited effectiveness of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British pharma major AstraZeneca that goes by the name of Covishield in India, against the South African strain.

Also read: Slow mutation of the Covid pandemic

South Africa has also halted AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine inoculation, citing limited protection.

According to a report in the Mint, on Monday and Tuesday, SAGE examined the vaccine’s effectiveness on the new SARS CoV-2 variants before making recommendations.

The development comes after WHO’s COVAX (Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access) signed advance purchase agreements with AstraZeneca and SII. It also announced a distribution of around 350 million doses in the next six months. However, Covishield is yet to receive a green signal for global use by COVAX.

Also read: South Africa puts hold on AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine over its low efficacy

According to media reports, so far India has reported only one mutation of the virus currently in circulation, i.e. the UK variant. The government has claimed that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin works against the mutant strain.

Furthermore, the government maintained that the surveillance for mutations in the virus will be speeded up as vaccine efficacy concerns have been raised by South Africa.

Published on February 10, 2021

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