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American vaccines effective against COVID-19 strain first found in India: US officials

COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective against the deadly coronavirus variant, which was first detected in India, top US health officials said on Tuesday.

The B.1.617 virus variant — first identified in India last year — has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ at the global level by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“The modest neutralisation resistance to the 617 antibodies suggests that the current vaccines that we are all using that we’ve been speaking about would be at least partially and probably quite protective,” Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Chief Medical Advisor to the US President told reporters during a news conference.

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Making a presentation of his data and latest research on this issue, Dr Fauci said both the variants B617 and B1618 — identified in India — have been neutralised with only a 2.5 fold diminution in titer. “That’s well within the cushion effect of the capability to protect against infection and certainly against serious disease,” he added.

“So, in summary, this is just another example of the scientific data accruing, literally over the last few days, indicating another very strong reason why we should be getting vaccinated,” Dr Fauci said.

Andy Slavitt, White House COVID-19 Senior Advisor said the vaccines available in the US are effective against the Indian variant.

“And, it is all the more reason why it’s important for all of us, who have the opportunity to get vaccinated, to do so because we’ve seen the devastation that these variants can cause in other countries. And we should not feel that this can’t happen here,” Slavitt said in response to a question.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

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