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COVID jabs work against all known variants, says WHO

May 20, 2021

All WHO-approved vaccines have proven effective against COVID-19 variants — including the mutation identified in India. Still, the agency's Europe division cautioned against international travel.

A healthcare worker prepares to administer a vaccine
All six of the coronavirus vaccines currently approved by the WHO have been shown to curb COVID variants, said the agency's Europe branchImage: Enjoli Saunders/U.S. National Guard/ZUMA Wire/picture alliance

The World Health Organization's (WHO) regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, voiced optimism on Thursday about the ability of vaccines to protect against current coronavirus variants.

The comments come amid concerns surrounding the spread of variant  B.1.617, which was first discovered in India and has been identified by the WHO as a variant of "concern."

The variant has so far been confirmed in 26 out of the 53 countries that span the region covered by the WHO Europe.

It also comes as Europe takes steps to re-open its doors to fully-vaccinated tourists.

What did the WHO say?

Although urging health officials and the public to remain vigilant in the face of several COVID variants, the WHO emphasized that vaccinations and hygiene measures would help prevent the spread.

"All COVID-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available, approved vaccines," Kluge said.

The list of WHO-approved coronavirus vaccines currently include: BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (including those Covishield doses manufactured by the Serum Institute of India), Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm.

Still, Kluge cautioned against restarting international travel because progress on the pandemic was still "fragile." 

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What is the latest on the Indian variant?

An official from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that China's current vaccines have also shown promise against the coronavirus variant spreading in India.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said Wednesday that current vaccines were effective against variant  B.1.617.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said that scientists were studying the variant and would have more concrete answers about transmission of the Indian variant next week.

rm/rs (Reuters, AP, AFP)