New Delhi: The Central government on Saturday said that two pan-India studies on the genome of the COVID-19 virus in India suggest it is genetically stable and has shown no major mutation. Notably, this comes as the work on vaccine for COVID-19 continues, with concerns in some quarters that any major mutation detected in the virus can hinder the development of the vaccine. Also Read - Budget 2021: Will Govt Bring Cheer to Pandemic-hit Middle Class? A Look at Expectations This Year
The PMO said, “Two pan-India studies on the Genome of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus) in India conducted by ICMR and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) suggest that the virus is genetically stable and there is no major mutation in the virus.” Also Read - India vs Australia: PM Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar Congratulate Team India After Historic Win; Fans on Twitter Go Berserk
Moreover, some recent global studies have said the vaccines currently being developed for COVID-19 should not be affected by recent mutations. Also Read - 'Not the Time': Biden Administration Drops Order as Trump Lifts Travel Ban With Europe, Brazil
Mutation typically refers to the property of a virus to undergo changes when it multiplies and the virus may develop some new strains after it replicates. In cases, the new strains tend to be less effective and therefore die out soon, while more powerful strains may lead to faster spread of the virus.
Last month, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said no significant or drastic mutations have been found in strains of SARS-CoV-2 in India till now.
He had also said the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) was conducting large-scale sequencing of nationally representative strains collected over a few months and detailed results on mutations of the virus will be available in early October.
PM Modi Calls For Speedy Access of Vaccine
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for full preparedness to ensure speedy access to COVID-19 vaccines for every citizen. He went on to suggest developing a vaccine delivery system on the lines of conduct of polls and disaster management while involving all levels of government and citizen groups.
Chairing a meeting to review the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the preparedness of vaccine delivery, distribution, and administration, the prime minister also noted a steady decline in the daily cases and the growth rate. At the same time, he also cautioned against any complacency at the decline and called for keeping up the efforts to contain the pandemic.
He insisted on continued social distancing and COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing the mask, regularly washing hands and sanitation, especially in the wake of upcoming festival season.
The meeting was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Principal Secretary to PM, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, Principal Scientific Advisor, senior scientists, officers of PMO, and officials from various other departments.
In a statement, the PMO said three vaccines are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which two are in Phase II and one is in Phase-III.
Russia Gets DCGI’s Nod
Russia has been granted approval by the Drug Control General of India (DGCI) to conduct late-stage clinical trials of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in India.
Prior to this, Dr.Reddys Laboratories Ltd. and Russian Direct Investment Fund (the official sponsor of the vaccine candidate) had entered into a partnership to conduct clinical trials of Sputnik V vaccine and its distribution in India. As part of the partnership, RDIF shall supply 100 million doses of the vaccine to Dr.Reddy’s upon regulatory approval in India.
Sputnik V, an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund and registered on August 11.