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SARS-CoV-2: Experts raise concern over effectiveness of vaccine

SARS-CoV-2: Experts raise concern over effectiveness of vaccine

Kolkata: At a time when the entire world pins hopes on a vaccine as it may emerge as the 'ultimate weapon' to fight COVID-19, a section of researchers and health care professionals raise concern over the development of a vaccine and its effectiveness on the people.

According to some experts it is not however clear how far the vaccine would be successful against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid. This is mainly because the virus is mutating as it passes from one person to another. A mutation is just a change in a virus' genetic code.

Dr Subhrangsu Chatterjee, Associate Professor of the Department of Biophysics at the Bose Institute Kolkata asserted that vaccines would not be any kind of magical panacea. It would be difficult to create a universal vaccine if the virus mutates in such a manner that prevents antibodies from binding. Nevertheless, people should be hopeful about the development of vaccines but all the precautionary measures must be maintained till a vaccine hits the market.

"This virus is completely new to us and a holistic footprint of the immune response is still in dark. We have cultivated preliminary knowledge of the immune response against the viral pathogenesis and altered disease complicacy from person to person. We need to understand the effects of mutations in the human system. Some mutations are non-lethal while some others can be lethal. More knowledge on this disease is required" said Dr Chatterjee. He also mentioned that development of anti-spike protein agents can be helpful to find an antiviral drug against COVID-19. The drug can be administered as nasal drops, inhaler or nebulizer.

Dr Gopeswar Mukherjee, consultant pathologist at Barasat Cancer Research & Welfare Centre said: "As Covid virus appears to be an engineered one, it is very much unpredictable. It can thrive in extremely hot and cold environments. Enough research has not been done. We often find contradictory statements regarding the functioning of the virus. We must avoid a false sense of hope that a vaccine is just around the corner and the pandemic will subside." He also added: "We should restrain ourselves from taking part in any social gathering. People must be cautious and should wear masks and sanitize hands from time to time.

According to some other health experts, if random viral mutations alter the shape of an antigen, it can make a vaccine less effective against the virus. If one gets infected by strain-A; his/her immune system learns to recognize that surface protein. The antibodies

produced by the vaccine work on one strain but not effective against the other, rendering the vaccine ineffective, some experts felt.

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