'Covaxin effective against UK coronavirus strain'

Covaxin effective against UK coronavirus strain: Bharat Biotech

Covaxin also reduces the possibility of mutant virus escape

Representative image. Credit: Reuters Photo

Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has announced that home-grown Covaxin was found to be effectively neutralising the UK variant of the Covid-19 causing virus, which is stated to be more contagious and deadly.

At least 150 people have tested positive with the UK variant in India till now, amid concerns about the already developed vaccines' efficacy in fighting off the new strain.

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On Wednesday, the Hyderabad based Biotech firm said that Covaxin “effectively neutralises UK variants of the SARS-CoV-2, reducing the possibility of mutant virus escape.”

The Indian Council of Medical Research, co-developer of Covaxin, reiterated the claim and said that Covaxin “has equivalent immunogenicity against the UK variant and circulating Covid-19 strains in India.”

“Uncertainty dispelled, Covaxin works against UK variant,” ICMR declared on Twitter.

The UK variant sweeping across the European nation and transmitted to several other countries was earlier detected as capable of spreading 70 per cent faster than the common strain.

Last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “early evidence” suggests that the UK originated variant may be more lethal.

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine was also reported as effective against the UK variant virus, identified as lineage B.1.1.7.

ICMR said that the SARS-CoV-2 UK variant with all its signature mutations was isolated and cultured successfully for the first time in the world at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. This cultured strain was used for testing Covaxin's potency.

“Sera collected from Covaxin recipients, who showed 99.6 per cent seroconversion following vaccination, has neutralized UK variants,” ICMR said while proclaiming that there is “no escape for the UK variant from the grip of Covaxin.”

The indigenously developed, inactivated, two-dose Covid-19 vaccine can be stored at 2–8°C.

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BBV152 or Covaxin is undergoing Phase-3 trials, on about 26,000 volunteers across the country.

However, earlier this month, Covaxin was accorded the emergency use authorization by the drug controller, along with Serum Institute of India's Covishield and is part of the ongoing vaccination drive covering the health workers initially.

Covaxin is being administered under “clinical trial mode”, where the vaccine recipients would be followed up for safety.

A paper published recently in the famous medical journal Lancet has stated that Covaxin has affected enhanced immune responses against Covid-19, citing the vaccine's Phase-1 trials.