Coronavirus seems to always be in the headlines. Just when we thought that the struggle against coronavirus is about to end and the new year would mean the return of the old normal, COVID made a comeback in a new form- the B117 virus.
The new strain of the virus that emerged in the UK has spread to many other countries. Even though flights to the UK are not being operated, the virus has arrived in India too.
Naturally, this poses a question- will the coronavirus vaccine work against B117?
Why is the mutated virus different?
The only way the B117 virus is different from the other strains of COVID is that it is much more contagious. More people are likely to get infected by 1 infected person. In fact, of all the different strains of COVID, this one has the highest percentage of transmissibility- 70%.
Why scientists think that the new vaccines will work against the B117 virus
The good news is that scientists across the world believe that the coronavirus vaccine will be effective against the B117 virus as well.
Firstly, scientists have found that this virus does not have extra virulence. That means it is not more dangerous than the other strains of COVID. So a coronavirus vaccine that has been proved to be effective against the other strains will also be effective against this strain.
Most importantly, there is no change in the spike protein of the B117 virus. The spike protein determines how effective the coronavirus vaccine will be.
So the COVID-19 vaccine that has been developed in response to the spike protein of the regular COVID strains will also work against the new virus strain because their protein structure is the same.
Will India’s own COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin work against the new virus?
Ever since it was announced that India’s home-grown coronavirus vaccine- Covaxin by Bharat Biotech has been given emergency approval, it has met huge backlash. Scientists are doubtful about its efficacy because it has not yet completed the vital phase 3 trial. Moreover, its efficacy reports have not been published.
Once this coronavirus vaccine completes the trials and scientists know more about its effectiveness, we can get a better idea of whether India’s COVID vaccine can prevent the B117 virus.
So in the meantime, the best we can all do is observe COVID protocol and wait for the coronavirus vaccine to roll out.