All authorised COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the variants of novel coronavirus known so far, including the b.1.617 variant, which fuelled the second wave of the pandemic in India, the Europe Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on May 20.
“All COVID-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available, approved vaccines,” Dr Hans Kluge said, adding that all COVID-19 variants can be controlled with the same public health and social measures used until now.
The so-called Indian COVID-19 variant, which is believed to be more transmissible, has now been identified in at least 26 countries in the WHO Europe region, Kluge said while addressing a press conference.
Doctor Kluge, however, cautioned that progress against the coronavirus pandemic remains “fragile” and international travel should be avoided.
The WHO Europe chief said: “Right now, in the face of a continued threat and new uncertainty, we need to continue to exercise caution, and rethink or avoid international travel.” He added that “pockets of increasing transmission” on the continent could quickly spread.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
With AFP inputs
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