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How viruses mutate and can vaccines get the better of them?
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How viruses mutate and can vaccines get the better of them?

How does mutation happen?
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How does mutation happen?
The novel coronavirus, now the cause of one of the most deadly pandemics of the modern era, has a penchant for mutations and evolving new mechanisms to attack the immunity cells. The mutations are rapid as compared to human cells, which have mechanisms to proofread the genome and repair a sequence if an error is detected.

How is virus mutation classified?
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How is virus mutation classified?

The virus mutation is classified through sequence-based surveillance and a variant is identified if it has one or more mutations. The US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified variants into three different types. It includes Variant of Interest, Variant of Concern and Variant of High Consequence.

 

Are vaccines effective against virus mutations?
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Are vaccines effective against virus mutations?

One of the prime cause of concern is the effectiveness of vaccines against the new mutation of the virus. While researchers in the UK found that the vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant was about the same for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, AstraZeneca had 60 per cent efficacy. Meanwhile, the Delta variant decreased the neutralisation capacity of Covaxin, a study by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had shown. However, it maintained that the vaccine demonstrates a protective response against the variant.

What is WHO doing about virus variants?
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What is WHO doing about virus variants?

WHO has been tracking mutations and variants since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Their global SARS-CoV-2 laboratory network includes a dedicated Virus Evolution Working Group, which aims to detect new changes quickly and assess their possible impact.

How can we prevent future new variants of COVID-19?
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How can we prevent future new variants of COVID-19?

Stopping the spread at the source remains key. Current measures to reduce transmission – including frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, physical distancing, good ventilation and avoiding crowded places or closed settings – continue to work against new variants by reducing the amount of viral transmission and therefore also reducing opportunities for the virus to mutate remains key. Current measures to reduce transmission – including frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, physical distancing, good ventilation and avoiding crowded places or closed settings – continue to work against new variants by reducing the amount of viral transmission and therefore also reducing opportunities for the virus to mutate.