1. Home
  2. Nation
  3. Omicron strain has over 30 mutations, may escape vaccines: AIIMS chief

Omicron strain has over 30 mutations, may escape vaccines: AIIMS chief

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
Omicron strain has over 30 mutations, may escape vaccines: AIIMS chief

New Delhi: The new Coronavirus variant, Omicron, has around 30+ mutations in the spike protein which gives it the potential to dodge immunity provided by vaccines, warned AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Sunday.

Also Read :- Kerala govt imposes more restrictions amid Covid cases surge; Check new guidelines

The new variant, first found in South Africa, has already triggered global concern with several countries announcing renewed travel restrictions to prevent a potentially deadly outbreak.

Talking to media, the AIIMS chief said that multiple mutations in the spike region could offset the efficacy of vaccines.

“The new variant of coronavirus reportedly has got more than 30 mutations at the spike protein region and therefore has the potential of developing immunoescape mechanisms. As most vaccines (work by) forming antibodies against the spike protein, so many mutations at the spike protein region may lead to a decreased efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines,” Dr Guleria said.

The presence of spike protein facilitates a virus’ entry into the host cell and is responsible for making it transmissible and causing infection.

Also Read :- Ex-India opener Gautam Gambhir tests Covid positive, says ‘mild symptoms’

Dr Guleria said that India will have to critically evaluate its available vaccines in case the virus is found to resist them.

The future course of action will depend on what more data on its transmissibility, virulence and immunoescpae shows, he said.

So far, the new variant, also known as B.1.1.529, has not been detected in India.

Dr Guleria emphasised the need to be very vigilant and having aggressive surveillance both for international travellers and in the region where there is a sudden increase in the number of cases.

“Also, we must ask everyone to religiously follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and not let their guards down. Also, it has to be ensured that people get both the doses of vaccine and those who have not yet taken the jab are encouraged to come forward to take it,” he said.

Also Read :- WHO chief Tedros says world at "Critical Juncture" in Covid pandemic

The new, and potentially more contagious variant, was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on November 24. It has since been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel among other countries.

On Friday, it was designated a ‘Variant of Concern’ by the WHO, which named it Omicron. A ‘Variant of Concern’ is the WHO’s top category of worrying Covid-19 strain.

The Centre on Thursday asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.

In a letter to the additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary (Health) of all states and union territories, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to the designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly.

Separately, at a high-level meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked officials to review the resumption of regular international flights and called for more proactive steps in light of the new variant.

Also Read :- R-Day parade guidlines: Unvaccinated people and kids are not allowed at the ceremony
Further reading:
For the latest news and reviews, follow us on Facebook and Twitter ...