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India should modify vaccines adaptable to changing nature of Covid variants: Dr. VK Paul

India should modify vaccines adaptable to changing nature of Covid variants: Dr. VK Paul

Niti Aayog member Dr. VK Paul

New Delhi: Amid the looming Omicron threat, Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul on Tuesday said that India should have vaccine platforms that are 'adaptable quickly' with changing nature of the coronavirus variants.

He also noted that there is a potential scenario that our COVID-19 vaccines may become ineffective.

"There is a potential scenario that our vaccines may become ineffective in emerging situations. In the wake of the last three weeks of living with Omicron, we have seen how such doubts have come up. Some of them may be genuine. We still do not have the final picture," he said.

Addressing an event organised by industry body CII, the COVID Task Force chief called for modifying the vaccines every year.

"There is a need for us that we have to be sure about having vaccine platforms that are adaptable quickly. This possibility that we need to tweak for us to remain in the game, so to say, with changing nature of the variants remains valid," Dr Paul said.

Dr Paul said he hopes that coronavirus in India is possibly moving in the direction of endemicity where there is a low or moderate level of transmission going on.

"How soon can we create a vaccine which is using the same platform, but is now targeted to the variant of the day? ...we have to be ready to be able to have a situation where resiliently we are able to modify the vaccines as they require. This may not happen every three months, but this could happen every a year perhaps," he observed.

Further, he termed the global access to vaccines as a "core and fundamental" issue. "The foremost priority right now is to make sure that there is universal coverage of the vaccine and no one is left behind," he said.

He also said the production of vaccines to meet global demand was still possible. "We have 3.6 billion people who are still not vaccinated. I guess they need 7.2 billion doses (of the vaccine) together and at the current rate of production, it is well within our grasp," he said.

The new and potentially more contagious variant called B.1.1.529 was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on November 24.

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