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Serum Institute May Alter Covishield Composition to Tackle Virus Variants

Updated On Feb 11, 2021

The Serum Institute of India may have to make adjustments in the composition of its vaccine, Covishield. The alteration is highly likely as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) expressed concerns over the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine against the South African variant. 

It must be noted that SAGE reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccine on new SARS CoV-2 variants, prior making any significant recommendations. Quite recently, South Africa decided to halt the roll out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after preliminary clinical trial findings indicated that the Covid-19 vaccine offered minimal protection against the mild-moderate covid-19 infection from the B.1.351 variant.

According to COVAX, it is extremely important to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing more severe illnesses caused by the B.1.351 variant as it aims to provide equal access to the novel coronavirus vaccine in more than 92 low- and middle-income countries. 

COVAX has recently signed advance purchase agreements with AstraZeneca and SII. This development regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine is quite significant for Serum Institute of India. It must be noted that COVAX aims at distributing nearly 350 million doses in the first half of the year.

Covishield, the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed by Serum Institute may have rolled out in the country, it is yet to gain approval for global use by COVAX. As per COVAX, “A decision regarding whether the vaccines will be granted emergency use listing as well as SAGE recommendation on optimal use is expected from WHO this month.”

India has only one, the UK mutant strain of coronavirus circulating as of now. As per the Indian government, studies show that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin works against the mutant strain.

Read More: New Coronavirus Strain? What is it?

Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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