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Vaccines can be tweaked to offer protection against new Covid variants: Expert

In his oration ‘Covid 19 and lungs- lessons learnt and the way forward’, Dr Guleria said the present lot of vaccines can be tweaked so that they can offer protection against newer variants of concern.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: December 20, 2021 8:27:12 am
At the event at YASHADA on Sunday. (Photo: Ashish Kale)

The next two or three weeks will tell us how the Omicron variant will play out on factors such as transmissibility, escaping immunity and severity, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi, said on Sunday. He, however, said vaccines could be tweaked to offer protection against new emerging variants of SARS-CoV2 virus.

Guleria was speaking at the 22nd Dr V S Prayag Memorial Oration-2021 organised jointly by the Association of Physicians of India and Dr Shirish Prayag family at the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA). Apart from Dr R R Gangakhedkar, former ICMR epidemiologist, several noted physicians were felicitated on the occasion.

In his oration ‘Covid 19 and lungs- lessons learnt and the way forward’, Dr Guleria said the present lot of vaccines can be tweaked so that they can offer protection against newer variants of concern. “The production of a new influenza vaccine each year demonstrates that it is possible to adapt existing vaccines to keep up with viral mutations,” the expert said.

Even as immunologists are concerned about the likelihood of emerging mutations that could render the vaccines less effective, the problem can be dealt with by tweaking the vaccines, he said. Focusing on the challenge of vaccine equity, he said it should be ensured that both rich and poor countries had enough doses.

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There have been several zoonotic infections, including outbreaks of avian influenza, H1N1 pandemic and Ebola, Zika and Nipah virus, in the recent past. The reasons, according to Dr Guleria, for the rise in these infectious diseases was increasing travel, trade, and connectivity, growing urbanisation, and encroachment into a new environment.

“The whole concept of ‘One health’ becomes very important, wherein animal and human sectors work together to protect health and ensure food safety and security,” he said. “We need to work on solutions at a local and global level to prevent future pandemics keeping in mind the interconnection of human and animal health, the interconnection of human and ecosystem, and the interconnection of animal health and ecosystem,” he added.

On the occasion, Dr Parikshit Prayag, infectious diseases expert at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, also made a strong case for a booster dose of the Covid vaccine.

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Earlier, the event started with a symposium on diabetes. Dr A G Unnikrishnan and Dr Suhas Erande delivered guest lectures.

The 7th API Quest, a quiz for postgraduate medicine residents, was conducted during the event. As many as 31 teams from various cities of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Aurangabad, Latur, Miraj and Pune, participated in the event conducted by quiz master Dr Nilima Mane. Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, team won the first prize. The event was organised under the leadership of Dr A L Kakrani, Dr Suresh Shinde, Dr D B Kadam and Dr Mukund Penurkar from API, Pune.

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First published on: 20-12-2021 at 08:26:22 am

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