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AY.1 not a variant of concern yet: Centre

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India on Tuesday formally acknowledged the occurrence of AY.1, a coronavirus variant that is closely related to the prevailing Delta variant.

AY.1, or B.1.617.2.1, has a mutation called K417N that is linked to high infectivity and has been associated with the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.

Also read: B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV-2 drove surge in the COVID-19 cases in last 2 months

“This [AY.1] was first identified in March in Europe but brought into the public domain only two days ago,” said V.K. Paul, Chairman, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19, at a press conference.

“Yes, a new variant has been found. It’s not yet a variant of concern, or one which has adverse consequences to humanity. We don’t know much about this yet and are studying it, including the prevalence in India.”

As The Hindu reported on Monday, five Indian laboratories submitted data on this variant in May and June to GISAID, a global repository. Public Health England, a U.K. body, said of the 63 genomes in the GISAID repository as of June 7, six were from India.

This doesn’t mean that only six instances of this form of the virus exist in India. Evidence of the mutant have been found in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka.

Dr. Paul said that while the continued mutation of the coronavirus was a biological fact, the steps to protect against exposure remained the same — “not giving opportunities to the virus to spread.”

Boost from Novavax

On vaccination, Dr. Paul said reserves of the Novavax vaccine had come to India on Monday, and are likely be produced domestically in “very large” quantities”.

“What we know is that it is extremely safe and has a very high efficacy. There is a bridging trial of this vaccine under way in India. The positive results of this augur very well for our country. We should be proud that another vaccine appears to be the horizon in our country,” he added.

Also read: Coronavirus | Indian ‘double mutant’ strain named B.1.617

The U.S. company, which has partnered with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), tested its two dose ‘NVX-CoV2373’ vaccine on around 30,000 adults in the U.S. and Mexico. Novavax said it planned to apply for authorisations in the third quarter (July-September) and is on track to manufacture 100 million doses per month by the end of September and 150 million doses per month by the end of 2021. Most of these doses are expected to go to low and middle income countries.

Earlier in June, the Drugs Controller General of India had given permission to SII to go ahead with the Phase 2/3 trials of the vaccine that will be branded as “Covavax” in India.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 7:09:42 AM |

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