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COVID-19 Update: Vaccines losing effect on Delta variant of coronavirus, says WHO official

In India, 21 cases of the 'Delta plus' variant of COVID-19 have been found in Maharashtra so far, according to state health minister Rajesh Tope

June 22, 2021 / 09:19 AM IST
The World Health Organization (WHO) official further said that there might be a

The World Health Organization (WHO) official further said that there might be a "constellation of mutations" in the future. (Representative image)

Existing COVID-19 vaccines are showing reduced signs of efficacy against the Delta variant of coronavirus, which was first identified in India, Hindustan Times reported citing a World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist. However, the jabs are still found to be effective at preventing severe illness and deaths, it said.

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B.1.617.2 Delta variant is becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increased transmissibility, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on June 18. It was first detected in India around October 2020.

“The whole situation is so dynamic because of the variants that are now circulating and...the Delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increased transmissibility,” Swaminathan said responding to a question at a press briefing in Geneva on the day.

Also read | Covishield only 33-60% effective against Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, warns top US health expert

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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Earlier, the COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update issued by the WHO on June 15 said that the Delta variant is now being reported in about 80 countries around the world. Another 12 countries and areas are reporting the detection of B.1.617 without further specification of lineage at this time.

In India, 21 cases of the 'Delta plus' variant of COVID-19 have been found in Maharashtra so far, said state health minister Rajesh Tope on June 21. Talking to reporters, Tope said the highest nine cases were reported in Ratnagiri followed by seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, and one case each in Palghar, Thane, and Sindhudurg districts.

In Kerala, at least three cases of SARS-CoV-2 Delta-plus variant have been found in samples collected from two Kerala districts- Palakkad and Pathanamthitta, officials said on the day.

Also read | COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: 86.16 lakh doses administered in India on June 21

Also, the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was said to be the main circulating strain in Chandigarh during the recent second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. "During the second wave, the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) and Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) were found to be present among 61 percent and 30 percent of the samples respectively which were sent for whole-genome sequencing to the NCDC," said Jagat Ram, director of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

(With inputs from PTI)

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
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first published: Jun 22, 2021 09:19 am

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