Indian pharmaceutical companies Bharat Biotech and Biological E. Ltd have said they are able to quickly adjust their COVID-19 vaccine to fight new variants of virus once genetic sequence is known.
India has recently been exposed to variants submerging from Brazil, Britian, and South Africa; which explains the surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra and Kerala. Since the beginning of the pandemic, India has reported 11 million infections; the highest second number in the world after the U.S. and about 156,000 deaths.
Deputy director-general of the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Nivedita Gupta, said “As we are seeing a lot of resurgence of cases, we are picking up samples from hotspots and clusters and we are trying to sequence them,” in BioAsia’s conference.
ICMR and Bharat Biotech have created their own Indian vaccine. The country is using that along with another licensed vaccine from AstraZenaca and Oxford University to fight the virus. India is the world’s biggest developer of vaccines and has made promises to produce billions of COVID-19 doses.
Bharat Biotech Chairman, Krishna Ella, said the company would require data from ICMR or World Health Organization on the genetic sequence of variants in order to create the vaccines as quickly as possible.
Biological E. Managing Director Mahima Datla said people should not be concerned about variants because “Once you know the variant, when it’s sequenced, it is fairly quick to deploy into a vaccine.”