Covid-19 South African variant detected in India! How effective are Covaxin, Covishield vaccines?

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Covid 19 South African Strain VariantCovid-19 South African variant in India: The South African government has said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, on which Covishield is based, has ‘limited’ efficacy against the South African variant. (IE image)Covid-19 South African variant in India: With the availability of multiple Covid-19 vaccines and extensive vaccination programmes being carried out around the world, there is a sense of assurance. However, the Coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. There are variants of the highly contagious virus which have infected hundreds around the world and in India. One such Covid-19 variant is the South African one which has made its way into India as the Central government has disclosed that several people have been infected by this. Now the most pertinent question is: Will the South African variant of Covid-19 hamper the World’s largest vaccination drive in India?

To understand the basics, we need to understand the South African variant of Covid-19. The South African strain of Covid-19 or 501Y.V2 is a mutation of the Covid-19 virus and it was found in South Africa. The official announcement regarding the variant was made in December 2020. Like the UK variant, the South African strain has been found to be more transmissible. The South African variant has also been infecting the younger population more.

South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, on December 18, stated that clinicians have been providing anecdotal evidence of a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture- in particular noting that they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no comorbidities presenting with a critical illness, as per an Indian Express report.

Can Covaxin, Covishield prevent Covid-19?

The Government of India has given approval to the Serum Institute of India’s Oxford-AstraZeneca version – Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Bharat Biotech, in a pre-print study, claimed that Covaxin has the capacity of eliciting an immune response against the UK variant. However, Bharat Biotech has not released any details regarding Covaxin’s effectiveness against the South African variant, according to a report by The Indian Express report said.

The South African government has said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, on which Covishield is based, has ‘limited’ efficacy against the South African variant. The government in that country has since halted the use of Covishiled supplied by India. Subsequently, it has been switching over to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has a 57 percent against the South African variant.

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