​JN.1 not expected to spread as existing Covid-19 vaccines will work: Ex-ICMR DG | India News – Times of India

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HYDERABAD: The newly detected JN.1 variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus is not expected to spread in a big way in the country as the existing Covid-19 vaccines and masking up in crowded places should be enough to tackle it, former Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Dr Balram Bhargava said here on Wednesday.
“As far as Covid-19 is concerned we are done with most of it except some cases in Kerala and parts of Karnataka. We do not expect this JN.1 to spread in a big way in the country. It is not going to be a serious problem as we see it and what experts believe about JN.1…These vaccines will work so long as you have taken the precautionary dose,” he said.
He also said the government is looking at whether newer Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by companies like Serum Institute of India (SII) using nano particle technology, that are being exported to the US and have been found to be effective against JN.1, can be rolled out in the Indian population. SII’s recombinant spike protein nanoparticle vaccine Covovax, which has been developed by US-based Novavax, received DGCI approval for use as a heterologous booster in January 2023.
“Apparently, Serum Institute has a vaccine based on nanoparticle technology, which has been exported to US. While it is early days, the vaccine has shown a lot of promise and appears to be effective against JN.1,” said Bhargava, who was in Hyderabad to deliver the `Dr MVN Shirodkar Memorial Lecture’ on `India’s Covid Vaccine Saga’ organised by the Telangana Academy of Sciences (TAS),
He said even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has clearly said there is no need to do a special (clinical) trial for every variant and vaccines that have been working against a variant can be approved.
He, however, stressed on the need to be vigilant and said the government is setting up a lot of facilities for surveillance. “The only thing I can advise is have your vaccination if it is not completed in terms of the two doses and the booster shot. Secondly if you are going in very crowded places where there have been some cases then it may be wise to use a mask…,” he said.
Allaying fears about the rising incidents of heart attacks among youngsters being caused by Covid-19 vaccines as their development was rushed, he said none of the Covid-19 vaccines were rushed and all underwent Phase-1, Phase-2 and Phase-3 trials.
“None of these vaccines whether in the West or in India were rushed. Yes, the recruitment (of trial subjects) was done faster, all the logistics were rushed but in terms of the reports about strokes and acute heart attacks we know that as South Asians and Indians we have heart diseases and strokes occurring 10 years earlier than our western counterparts as we are genetically more predisposed to heart attacks and strokes.” He also said incidence of diabetes and hypertension are on the rise in the country.


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