Washington: India’s home-grown COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has been found to neutralise as many as 617 variant of the deadly COVID-19 virus, White House chief medical adviser and America’s top pandemic expert Dr Anthony Fauci said in Washington. The American expert made this statement while speaking to reporters during a conference call in Washington on Tuesday.
“This is something where we’re still gaining data on a daily basis. But the most recent data, was looking at convalescent Sera of COVID-19 cases and people who received the vaccine used in India, the Covaxin. It was found to neutralise the 617 variants,” he said. “So, despite the real difficulty that we’re seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote against this,” Fauci added.
Covaxin, COVID-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, earlier this year was granted permission for restricted use in emergency situation in public interest, by the Central Licensing Authority in India. The Indian government for its vaccination drive chose Covaxin and SII-manufactured Covishield, as the only two vaccines for emergency use. Covaxin was approved for emergency use on January 3. Trial results later showed the vaccine has an efficacy of 78 per cent.
The New York Times on Tuesday said Covaxin works by teaching the immune system to make antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The antibodies attach to viral proteins, such as the so-called spike proteins that stud its surface.
Fauci’s statement resonates with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), who on April 21, revealed that indigenously developed coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, neutralises numerous variants of SARS-CoV-2 and works effectively against the double mutant strain as well.
Covaxin, has received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for coronavirus treatment in India and in numerous countries all over the world with another 60 in the process.
ICMR-National Institute of Virology has successfully isolated and cultured multiple variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2 virus: B.1.1.7 (the UK variant), B.1.1.28 (Brazil variant ) and B.1.351 (South Africa variant). ICMR-NIV has demonstrated the neutralisation potential of Covaxin against the UK variant and Brazil variant, the apex health research body said. ICMR-NIV recently has been successful in isolating and culturing the double mutant strain B.1.617 SARS-CoV-2 identified in certain regions of India and several other countries, the ICMR stated.
Responding to a question during the press meet, Dr Andy Slavitt, White House COVID-19 Response Senior Advisor, said that a strike team from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is headed over to India to help coordinate this response.
“We are making sure that we are locating some of the raw materials necessary to create more vaccines in India, which I think is going to be an important help there,” he said.
“We stand with the country of India during this very trying and tragic surge. We are working to deploy resources and supplies, including therapeutics, rapid testing kits, ventilators, PPE, and raw materials, that are needed to manufacture vaccines in India, and the CDC, which has a long history of working with and in India on public health measures, will be deploying a strike team to the country to support the public health efforts there,” Slavitt said.
(With Inputs from PTI)