COVID-19: How effective are the vaccines against the 'variant of concern' Delta plus?
The Union Health Ministry declared the Delta Plus variant of the SARS-CoV-2 as a ‘variant of concern’. Know how effective are the vaccines against the 'variant of concern' Delta plus?
The Union Health Ministry on June 22, 2021, declared the Delta Plus variant of the SARS-CoV-2 as a ‘variant of concern’. The new COVID-19 variant has been detected in three states so far. The Ministry has advised states to implement immediate containment measures in places where the variant has been detected.
The Health Ministry informed that the Delta Plus variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, and Bhopal and Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh.
INSACOG, a consortium of 28 laboratories of the Health Ministry has been genome sequencing the Delta Plus variant samples and noted that the variant shows increased transmissibility, potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response, and stronger binding in receptors of lung cells.
Delta Plus also known as the AY.1 variant of SARS-CoV-2 is the new COVID-19 variant that mutated from the Delta variant. First detected in Europe in March 2021, the variant has been found in the UK, USA, India, Russia, China, Nepal, Poland, Japan, Switzerland, and Portugal.
How effective are the vaccines against the Delta Plus variant?
Vaccines already being administered have been developed and found efficient at neutralizing the original strain of COVID-19 that caused the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. Currently, vaccines have been found effective against the Delta variant.
However, there have been concerns around the efficacy of vaccines against the Delta Plus variant.
The new COVID-19 variant has been found to be resistant to monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19. The new Delta Plus variant is 40 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant and notorious for escaping the immune system.
Therefore, experts state the vaccines might be not as effective on the Delta Plus variant as they were on the previous variants.
COVISHIELD and COVAXIN: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Both, Serum Institute of India’s COVISHIELD and Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN administered in India have been found effective against the Delta variant.” Data about the extent and proportion of these vaccines to produce antibodies will be released soon, he added.
SPUTNIK V: Russia’s SPUTNIK V which was added to India’s vaccination program is found to be effective against all COVID-19 variants found today, from the UK variant to the so-called Delta variant, said Gamaleya Centre head Alexander Gintsburg.
The Russia-made vaccine claims to offer better protection against new variants.
Alon Rappaport, Pfizer's medical director stated the data generated from the research from the places where the Delta variant has become the common variant replacing the Alpha variant show that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been found to be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.
Pfizer is in talks with the Indian Government to make its Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine available in India.