Omicron Variant: Will virus mutations make vaccines ineffective? Here’s what ICMR’s Senior Scientist said

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New Delhi: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist Samiran Panda on Saturday addressed concerns about Omicron Variant by saying that genomic variations and structural changes have been reported in other countries in the new variant of the coronavirus, but whether these would lead to increased transmission or make ineffective vaccines is under consideration.

The head of the Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR noted that according to WHO, vaccines that have been directed against the spike protein of the virus may have difficulty in establishing adequate immunity against the virus. transferred due to structural changes that have been reported. in the viral genome.

“However, we have to wait and observe to understand how the emergence of this new mutant is evolving and playing out at the population level,” said scientist Samiran Panda, quoted by the PTI news agency.

About ‘Variant Of Concern’ Omicron

The new, potentially more contagious variant B.1.1.529 was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in South Africa on November 24 and was also identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel and, later, the UK. .

The variant is said to have a high number of mutations, around 50 in total. More importantly, as South African genomic scientists announced on Thursday, more than 30 mutations have been found in the spike protein – the structure the virus uses to enter the cells they attack.

The new variant, becoming a cause of alarm, has led countries around the world to impose travel bans and restrictions on countries in southern Africa in a bid to contain the spread of Omicron.

The United States has since Monday restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the southern Africa region.

European countries as well as the UK have banned travel to and from South Africa and neighboring Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, as well as Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), all two landlocked in South Africa.

The other countries include Mauritius, Israel, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands.

Many other countries have indicated that only their citizens will be allowed to return, subject to a period of quarantine.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has called on all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travelers arriving or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and the Botswana.

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