In a major development, Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech on Sunday announced that its COVID-19 vaccine has been found effective against the aggressively virulent B.1.167 strain of coronavirus detected in India and the B.1.1.7 strain found in the UK.
The company’s claim is based on a study carried out by the Pune-based National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research. The results of the study have been published in ‘Clinical Infectious Diseases’—a peer-reviewed journey.
The vaccine major, citing the study, claimed that its vaccine produces neutralising titres against all key emerging variants of the virus. Notably, titres mean the concentration of antibodies.
As of now, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is one of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in India. The other two are—Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
What Bharat Biotech said
Bharat Biotech’s co-founder Suchitra Ella in a tweet said, “Covaxin gets international recognition yet again, by scientific research data published demonstrating protection against the new variants. Yet another feather in its cap.”
Although a small reduction in neutralization by a factor of 1.95 was found between the B.1.617 variant and the vaccine strain (D614G), the neutralizing titer levels still remain above what is required for it to be protective.
“No difference in neutralization between B.1.1.7 (first found in the UK) and vaccine strain (D614G) was observed,” the company said.
The vaccine maker while sharing the journey of Covaxin said that over 2 crore doses of the vaccine have been already supplied to the government by last month.
India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive
The Union health ministry on Sunday informed that over 18.22 crore COVID-19 jabs have been administered so far. Of it, over 17.33 lakh people were vaccinated on Saturday. The slow pace of vaccination is due to the acute vaccine shortage as Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech are unable to meet the demand for jabs requisitioned by the state governments.
Several states also had to stop the vaccination of people in the 18-44 year age group to make way for administering the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who had already taken the first dose.
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