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No 'Indian variant': WHO frowns on national nomenclature for COVID-19 types

The virus strains are referred to by the organisation by their scientific names, WHO said. For instance, it is the B.1.617 coronavirus strain and not the "Indian COVID-19 variant".

May 12, 2021 / 03:03 PM IST
Representational image (Source: Reuters)

Representational image (Source: Reuters)


The World Health Organization (WHO) clarified on May 12 that it does not identify viruses or its variants with the names of countries they are first reported from.

The virus strains are referred to by the organisation by their scientific names, WHO said.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also issued a statement on May 12 saying: “Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern. Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an ‘Indian Variant’.

The Health Ministry added: “These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded…. The WHO has not associated the term ‘Indian Variant’ with the B.1.617 variant of the novel coronavirus in its 32-page document. In fact, the word ‘Indian’ has not been used in its report on the matter.

According to the World Health Organization, the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, first detected in India in October 2020, has been found in sequences uploaded from 44 countries in all six WHO regions.

WHO said in its weekly update on the coronavirus pandemic: "As of May 11, over 4,500 sequences have been uploaded to GISAID (platform of data sharing mechanism for influenza) and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions, and WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries."

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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Moneycontrol News
first published: May 12, 2021 02:48 pm

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