public engagement

New coronavirus strain and its impact on vaccine strategy

With the new COVID19 virus strain (B1.1.7.) throwing the entire world into a frenzied state, it is important to understand its impact on healthcare and vaccine strategies.

COVID19’s genetic material- RNA- is made up of 30,000 letters which codes for 29 proteins. These proteins help the virus to attach to the cells in the respiratory tract, hijack the cellular machinary and use it to survive, thrive and multiply in the patient’s body.

The critical protein, called spike protein, helps the virus to attach to the proteins on lung cells and from there, spread throughout the body.

The new COVID19 virus strain called B1.1.7. was recently detected in the UK. The emergence of this new strain caused a worldwide stir and prompted stringent lockdown and travel bans.

The new strain has 23 new mutations in the viral genome, of which 8 are present in the gene that codes of the spike protein.

As all the vaccine strategies are built against detecting and initiating an immune response against the spike protein, it is crucial to understand the impact of these mutations on vaccine’s efficacy.

Our Head of Advanced Genomic Technologies Division- Dr. Harsh Sheth, gave a live interview with the anchor Mr. Utsav Parmar (IIS) on Doordarshan Girnar, explaining mutational processes behind the new COVID19 strain, its impact on vaccine’s efficacy and transmission efficiency of the new strain. The interview also consists of Dr. Amit Patel, member of India’s COVID19 task force, talk about mucormycosis and its impact on health. You can watch the entire interview here in Gujarati.