Covishield doesn’t prevent mild Covid by SA variant: Govt

The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that studies, though limited, on the variant of SARS-CoV-2 that emerged in South Africa, indicate that Covishield vaccine does not prevent mild Covid-19 disease, but continues to be effective in controlling disease severity and mortality due to the infection.

“Whatever information about the B1.351 variant of novel coronavirus we have been receiving from scientific channels is being monitored continuously. A few studies have been conducted on it. Though they are limited, but indicate that Covishield is not able to prevent the mild nature of the disease caused by the variant,” Dr V.K. Paul, the head, National Covid Task Force and Member (health) of NITI Aayog, told a press conference.

“However, the vaccine continues to remain effective in controlling disease progression to severe nature as well as mortality caused by it,” he added.

Paul also noted that the studies suggest that the SA variant is more transmissible. However he assured that no case of the variant has been found in the country so far.

“South Africa variant of Covid-19 is under watch. It has come forward that this variant spreads faster. As of yesterday, this particular variant is not in the country,” he said.

He also informed that the country is looking forward to having multiple Covid vaccines in near future and keeping a watch over foreign vaccine candidates with a keen interest to manufacture them in India.

“There is emerging news that Sputnik V vaccine developer is tying up with industry partners here for mass manufacturing. We are also watching with great zeal the progress being made by Zydus Cadilla’s vaccine candidate. Their trials are proceeding well. We have granted approval for Phase I early trial to a nasal vaccine candidate. We are watching the development in regard to Novavax’s vaccine which has partnered with Serum Institute of india for production in the country. We are also keeping up with the development of Johnsons and Johnsons vaccine with an interest in manufacturing it in the country,” he said.