AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that new coronavirus strains should not be a cause of concern for India. He added that the COVID-19 virus has undergone several mutations - an average of two per month - without leading to any changes in symptoms or treatment.
Dr Guleria, who is also a member of the national COVID-19 management task force said, "The mutations have not led to any change in symptoms and treatment strategy. According to current data, the vaccines in the trial phase (which are up for emergency authorisation) should also be effective against the new (UK) strain."
Allaying fears over the increase in hospitalisations and deaths due to the new strain discovered in UK, he told The Times of India that it raised alarm only on account of being more infectious. Dr Guleria added that the mutated strain does not amount to increased time in hospital, neither does it increase the chances of fatality.
He added there have been many mutations over the last 10 months and this is common. Since there were no major changes in the virus, Dr Guleria said that there won't be a major change in the vaccine.
Dr Guleria said that six-seven vaccines are expected to be introduced in India by the middle of next year. The AIIMS director said once enough data is available, a long-lasting vaccine can be developed and "at present, the vaccine for frontline workers will be free of cost and the expenses will be borne by the Union government."