India to Test Covid-19 Vaccines Covishield, Covaxin After Detection of Brazil & South Africa Variants in Country

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Covid-19 vaccines produced by India, Covishield and Covaxin, are likely to be tested against the Brazil and South Africa variants soon. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was informed that Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) was in the process of isolating and culturing the South African variant in its lab, said a TOI report. The NIV has already readied a culture of the Brazilian variant for testing.

"Serum samples drawn from those who have received the vaccines in India will be used in the lab to test if they can neutralise the two variants that recently entered India," Dr Samiran Panda, head of ICMR’s epidemiology and communicable diseases division told Times of India.

The South African variant is known as 501.V2 while the Brazilian one has been tagged as P.1.

So far, India has recorded four positive cases with the South African Covid-19 variant and one with the Brazilian variant. "It is not necessary that a variant that is more transmissible will turn out to be more virulent. Another question to ask is whether they are associated with rapidly spreading outbreaks," said Dr Panda.

Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, director of National Centre for Disease Control, said the South African and Brazilian variants have public health implications. "For one, the Brazilian variant is believed to be more transmissible and it may have the ability to evade antibodies," he said.

Studies show the South African variant, too, is more transmissible.