Will COVID-19 vaccines work against Omicron variant? Here's what AIIMS chief has to say

India has not reported any case of Omicron variant of coronavirus so far.

Will COVID-19 vaccines work against Omicron variant? Here's what AIIMS chief has to say

New Delhi: Omicron, the new variant of the coronavirus, reportedly has over 30 mutations in the spike protein region and has the potential to resist COVID-19 vaccine protection, said All Indian Medical Sciences (AIMS) chief Randeep Guleria on Sunday.

The medical expert added that due to its large mutations, the variant can develop an immune escape mechanism and thus, the efficacy of vaccines against the strain needs to be evaluated critically, reported PTI.

"The new variant of coronavirus reportedly has got more than 30 mutations at the spike protein region and therefore has the potential of developing immune escape mechanisms. As most vaccines (work by) forming antibodies against the spike protein, so many mutations at the spike protein region may lead to a decreased efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines," AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guelria told PTI.

The doctor further added that owing to the emerging scenario, it is imperative to test the efficacy of vaccines, especially Indian vaccines, against the variant.

The future course of action and details will largely depend on more details about the variant, said Dr Guleria

Apart from that, the AIIMS chief urged the public to stay vigilant and let their guards down in regards to COVID-19.

He also emphasised the need to monitor international travellers and follow COVID appropriate behaviour to prevent the entry pf any foreign variant.

"Also, we must ask everyone to religiously follow Coivd-appropriate behaviour and not let their guards down. Also, it has to be ensured that people get both the doses of vaccine and those who have not yet taken the jab are encouraged to come forward to take it," Dr Guleria told PTI.

The Omicron or B.1.1.529 variant, which has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO, was first detected in South Africa.

Several Southern African and European countries have already reported confirmed cases of this variant.

India has so far not reported any case related to the Omicron variant of the virus but the officials said that the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia INSACOG is closely tracking the new variant of COVID-19, PTI reported.

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