COVID-19 vaccines can be tweaked for protection against new variants: AIIMS director Guleria

Pune, December 20 (PTI) The COVID-19 vaccines can be "tweaked" to provide protection against new variants of the virus, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, Director Dr Randeep Guleria has said.

His remarks have come in the wake of concerns over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

"Although there is this new variant of COVID-19, the silver lining is that it does seem to be a milder disease and we should have protection as far as the vaccine is concerned. And I think it is important to remember that vaccines can be tweaked," Dr Guleria here said on Sunday.

"We will have second-generation vaccines. This is something which we need to keep in mind. The current vaccines are effective but with new variants, they will decrease on immunity, however vaccines can be tweaked," he added.

He was speaking at the Dr V S Prayag Memorial Oration 2021 organised here in Maharashtra by the Association of Physicians of India.

Every year, a new vaccine (for diseases in general) is created based on surveillance data provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), therefore it is easier to do it, Dr Guleria said.

While Omicron was first reported in South Africa on November 24, India's first two cases of this heavily mutated version of the coronavirus were detected in Karnataka on December 2.

Till Sunday, 153 cases of Omicron were reported in India.

According to central and state officials, the Omicron cases have been detected in 11 states and Union Territories -- Maharashtra (54), Delhi (22), Rajasthan (17) and Karnataka (14), Telangana (20), Gujarat (11), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (1), Chandigarh (1), Tamil Nadu (1) and West Bengal (1).

Earlier this year, the Delta variant of the coronavirus was primarily responsible for the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.