The number of cases of highly infectious new Covid variant found in the UK has crossed the 70 mark in India till Tuesday, DBT Secretary Renu Swarup said even as the Union Health Ministry has put the number at 58.
Talking to reporters here at a press conference, Swarup said that till date 71 cases of the new UK variant have been reported in the country. However she did not give much detail about the cases.
On the other hand, a statement from the Ministry said that a total of 58 people have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India so far. The new coronavirus variant found in the UK is said to be 70 per cent more infectious than the first one.
Till Monday, a total of 38 people were found infected with the new strain of the virus in the country. Among them, 11 people have tested positive with the new strain at CSIR’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), and eight samples tested at NCDC, both in Delhi.
Dr VK Paul, member of the Niti Aayog said that in terms of the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, “we have not seen emergence of any untoward clusters in the country as of now which is reassuring.”
Later, Swarup also gave details on the various vaccines that are being developed in the country. “The mutations in the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 don’t substantially affect the antibody accessibility as assessed by computer modelling.
She said that all Indian vaccines being developed against the coronavirus will have to be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius as the logistics have been worked out while considering temperature as a factor.
Swarup said Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield have robustly undergone immunoassay lab tests.
“(For) all our vaccines, we are looking at right now…..(we) are targeting 2-8 degree because our logistics are worked out on that basis and we are working on that,” Swarup said.
She said the DNA vaccine candidate being developed by Zydus Cadila, and the Biological E’s mRNA vaccine work at storage temperatures of 2-8 degrees Celsius.
“Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna which requires a minus 70 degree Celsius (cold) chain, this (the Biological E’s vaccine candidate) is basically at the 2-8 degree Celsius,” Swarup said.
The Zydus Cadila candidate has been granted approval to conduct the phase-3 trial while the Biological E candidate is in its phase-1 clinical trial stage.
Swarup said Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has partnered with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute and a vaccine is being developed for India targeting storage at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
“They (Dr Reddy’s Laboratories) have started phase 2/3 trials in the country. They have completed the first part of the phase 2 trial on 1,000 subjects and they are now looking at interim data which is to be analysed.
“They also have large global trials, like the Astrazeneca and that data is also being looked at. What they are targeting is for India to try and see how it could be at 2-8 degrees,” Swarup said.