Efficacy of vaccines against Omicron to be put to test

Efficacy of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron, the new variant of concern, would be put to test at AIG Hospitals, Gachibowli, shortly. The results would be available around two weeks after launching the tests.

Chairman of the corporate hospital, D. Nageshwar Reddy says a pseudo Omicron virus can be created in the lab. Blood samples containing antibodies were collected from people who underwent immunisation. The blood samples will be used to test against the pseudo virus.

“It takes around two weeks to create the pseudo virus of Omicron. We will start the tests at AIG Hospitals shortly,” informs Dr Reddy. Efficacy of various vaccines will be tested.

Such tests have been launched in a few countries such as South Africa. Dr Reddy says the effect of the vaccines against Omicron would be known within a fortnight.

The vaccine efficacy tests at the hospital is believed to be helpful as samples are collected from people within the country, and antibodies are generated by vaccines available here. If the vaccines have a neutralising effect on the pseudo virus of Omicron, clinical proof, which takes around six months, may not be required.

Is there a Plan B if the vaccines prove to be ineffective against the new variant? Dr Reddy says that mRNA vaccines can be changed in two months to make it effective against the new variant.

The Omicron virus has created ripples across the world, but Dr Reddy says it could have something to do with the pandemic tapering off. When a pandemic tapers off, the virus becomes more infectious but less dangerous. “This was observed with the Spanish Flu. This is a natural evolutionary process for an organism to survive. Else, it gets killed,” he explains, adding that the current scientific evidence indicates that Omicron is more infectious than the Delta variant, but it seems to be mild in terms of disease with atypical symptoms such as muscle ache and running nose.

No severe cases or deaths because of Omicron have yet been reported. “It is good news that Omicron is more infectious and less dangerous,” he says.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 8:34:01 PM |

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