The UK mutant strain of Covid-19 is feared to be more infectious, but this has not been proved by scientific studies so far, Department of Biotechnology Secretary Renu Swarup said on Tuesday.
Recent data show that the number of mutations of the UK strain has gone up to 23 from 17, eight of them in the receptor binding region of the spike protein, which the virus uses to latch on to the human lung cells. Still, the vaccines will not be impacted by these mutations as they develop antibodies against many regions.
“So it is unlikely that these small changes will affect the vaccines,” said Swarup, whose department has partly funded most Covid-19 vaccines being developed in the country.
Swarup, who was present at the media briefing organised by the Health Ministry, said all vaccines being developed in the country are aimed at generating xantibodies to neutralise the UK mutant strain.
The DBT Secretary said a consortium of 10 labs has already started sequencing the UK mutant strain. The number of such cases has gone up to 71. Scientists are using this data to ascertain how the mutant will affect the vaccines and diagnostic tests.
She also said vaccines approved and those in the pipeline need storage at 2-8°C, which is suitable for the cold chain infrastructure in the country.