Mutations won’t affect efficacy of vaccine, says virologist

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Dayo Ojerinde

A professor of virology at the University of Ibadan, Prof. David Olaleye, has said the vaccination protocol of the country is in order, saying the mutation of the virus might not affect the efficacy of the vaccine.

Olaleye, in an interview with our correspondent, said the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation for emergency use were the efforts of many years of research.

He said the vaccines were safe for use and the over 55 variants in the country should not be a source of concern for Nigerians.

“I think we are in the right direction; there are what we call emergency use and the major companies producing vaccines have emergency use authorisation approval from the country they are being produced. Largely, in a pandemic situation like this, it is about a choice of what to do; we are in a desperate situation that demands urgent attention.

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“We must know that these vaccines are not just the effort of one year; researchers have been working since the first SARScov virus in 2003. The AstraZeneca that has been brought into Nigeria is the one we can handle effectively in terms of storage.

“On the issue of variants; it is one area we need to be very careful. Viruses behave in a particular way and what we are seeing that people are calling variants or mutants are not all that should be called variants. We talk of strains when we find every strain of a virus. That means one that successfully replicates and it leaves the body or the cell to another cell or another body will be different from the original. For coronavirus, it is known that they mutate and that is the essence of the surveillance to track the mutation.”

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He said the mutation was insignificant in terms of vaccination, clinical disease and drugs when it becomes available.

Corroborating Olaleye, a medical virologist at Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, said proper monitoring would reveal if the vaccine had side effects.

“We can remember vividly that South Africa started the immunisation before observing that it did not have a significant effect against the variants circulating in their country,” Kolawole said.

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