The B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, also known as ‘double mutant’, does lead to loss of neutralisation of antibodies but it is modest, Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, said on Tuesday, stressing that vaccines are effective against it.
Research, which Agrawal was a part of, also suggested that vaccines are likely to prevent severe disease.
B.1.617 has three spike protein mutations. Two mutations E484Q and L452R are in the area important for antibody-based neutralisation. The third mutation P681R allows the virus to enter cells a little better.
“The ability of loss of neutralisation of antibodies is modest but it is not much. It’s not the case that double mutation will have the double the loss of neutralisation. There is loss of neutralisation but it is not a huge amount. We expect the vaccines to still work even if they work a little bit less. They should prevent severe disease," Agrawal said.
The paper is yet to be peer-reviewed, he said.
A manual released by the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser last week said Covaxin and Covishield, two vaccines currently in use in India, provide protection against B.1.617 variant of the virus.
“Vaccination drives in some countries have resulted in 95.8 per cent drop in infection rates in those who have been fully vaccinated," the manual said.
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