Record-breaking COVID vaccines: Can they keep us safe from mutant variants?

The COVID-19 virus is changing and shape-shifting—a process called mutation—into newer and faster-spreading variants.

Published: 17th January 2021 12:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2021 02:20 PM   |  A+A-


A health official shows a Covaxin vaccine dose after a consignment of the vaccine arrived at Kalawati Saran hospital in New Delhi. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By Express News Service

The Covid-19 virus is changing and shape-shifting—a process called mutation—into newer and faster-spreading variants. The world is sitting up and asking: what’s going on? Should we be worried? What exactly does it mean for us? A look at the vaccines we have at our disposal and if their ability to quell the new variants:

VACCINE: Comirnaty (BNT162b2)

By: Pfizer and BioNTech 

Type: mRNA-based vaccine started January 2020 

Dosage: Two doses, 28 days apart

For: US, Canada, EU, UK, Switzerland, Israel

Efficacy: 95%

Effect on mutant variants? New research suggests their vaccine can protect against mutation found in the two variants that have erupted in Britain and South Africa.


By: Moderna, US biotech firm

Type: mRNA-based vaccine

Dosage: Two doses, 28 days apart

For: US, Canada, EU, UK, Switzerland, Israel

Efficacy: 94.1%

Effect on mutant variants? Moderna expects that the immunity induced by its Covid-19 vaccine would be protective against coronavirus variants. “We plan to run tests to confirm the activity of the vaccine against any strain,” said its statement.

VACCINE: Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca (AZD1222)/Covishield

By: AstraZeneca and University of Oxford, the Serum Institute of India 

Type: Adenovirus vaccine    

Dosage: Two doses, between 4-12 weeks apart

For: UK, India, Argentina, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Morocco

Efficacy: Shown mixed results; was 70% effective when a half-dose was given before a full-dose booster, while two full doses showed an efficacy of 62%

Effect on mutant variants? “AZD1222 contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein, and the changes to the genetic code seen in this new viral strain do not appear to change the structure of the spike protein.”

Vaccine: Sputnik V

By: Gamaleya Research Institute, Russia (collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories)

Type: Adenoviral vaccine     

Dosage: Two doses, 28 days apart

For: No distribution list

Efficacy: 91.4% (on day 28 of first dose) and over 95% (on day 42 of second dose) 

Effect on mutant variants? “Sputnik V will be as highly effective against the new strain of the coronavirus found in Europe as against the existing strains. Sputnik V has been showing its efficacy over a period of time despite the previous mutations of S-protein,” according to Sputnik V’s Twitter handle. 

VACCINE: Covaxin 

By: Bharat Biotech with Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s National Institute of Virology

Type: Whole virion inactivated

Dosage: Two doses, 14-28 days apart

For: India

Efficacy: No percentage reported

Effect on mutant variants? “Potential of Covaxin to mount resistance against mutants of SARS-Cov-2, the virus causing Covid-19, informed the decision making process for vaccine approval,” according to ICMR notification.

VACCINE: CoronaVac 

By: Sinovac Biotech Ltd, China

Type: Inactivated vaccine

Dosage: Two doses, 14-28 days apart

For: China, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Philippines

Efficacy: 78%

Effect on mutant variants? “The vaccine is safe, and we can use it with ease,” according to company statement.


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