India has currently granted emergency usage authorisation to multiple vaccines, of which the only mRNA vaccine by Moderna is not yet available in the country.
As of now, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russian vaccine Sputnik V are being administered in India to people who fit the eligibility criteria.
Both Covishield and Russia’s Sputnik V uses the adenoviral vector technology to trigger an immune response using a modified version of a different virus, known as a vector. Covaxin on the other hand, is developed using Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell derived platform technology, wherein the inactivated virus does not replicate but mounts a defensive immune response against the infection.
Since the new Omicron variant is known to have many mutations in the spike protein that are targeted by the vaccine antibodies, there could be some changes in vaccine efficacy.
However, according to Dr. Panda, only time could tell and determine how effective the vaccines will prove against the new variant. He says, “There are different kinds of vaccines. Some are directed towards the spike protein of the virus which gets attached to the receptor. So, if changes happened there, vaccines might not be effective.” In simple terms, if the spike protein that helps the virus to enter the host cell continues to mutate, it might become difficult for the vaccine-induced antibodies to detect and neutralize it, making it more rampant.