Can existing vaccines tackle Omicron?

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It’s too early to conclude, say experts

Hyderabad: Experts in the medical field say it would take two more weeks to ascertain the effectiveness of Covid vaccines on the new mutant, but stressed the need to speed up the vaccination programme and go in for booster doses for high-risk patients. Former CCMB Director Dr Rakesh Kumar Mishra said that the need of the hour is to tighten the Covid appropriate behaviour. "We have to be careful till we get out of the pandemic," he said.

"Vaccines will save lives… they will be effective. Covaxin and Covidshield are very likely to be protective and that should be a good thing for any variant but if we do not take precautions, no vaccine may not help," he said.

Talking to The Hans India, Rakesh Kumar Mishra said that it would be a good idea to have booster doses for people at higher risk as this would build immunity. "Newer variants will keep coming- as many as possible should be given vaccine."

"Let us vaccinate everybody. We know these vaccines are very good but we do not know how long they can last," Dr Mishra said.ACCESS Health International India Country Director Dr Nallamalla Krishna Reddy opined that mutations would continue to come now and then some will give advantage to viruses either in rapid transmission like Delta, some will evade immunity, which is called immune escape.

"We see two characteristics: whether it will spread rapidly and whether it will infect already infected persons. If there is no protection from the immunity- then it will be dangerous," he said.

He said there was a need to be alert and prevent a third wave. One should not conclude that there would be no third wave. A booster dose would become necessary if the variant was vaccine sensitive. Since immunity of the vaccine many decrease after nine months, a booster shot once a year may become necessary, he said.

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