Researchers at Pune’s Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV) found that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is effective in neutralizing the Delta (B.1.617.2) and Beta (B.1.351) variants of SARS-CoV-2, which causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The paper, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, is titled – “Neutralization against B.1.351 and B.1.617.2 with sera of COVID-19 recovered cases and vaccinees of BBV152” – and has been authored by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the ICMR-NIV and Bharat Biotech.
“The study demonstrated that despite a reduction in neutralization titers with BBV152 vaccinees sera against B.1.351 and B.1.617.2, its neutralization potential is well established,” the study pointed out, claiming that the vaccine developed by the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company is effective against these two variants which caused widespread concern among doctors for its increased severity.
“Another reason of global concern is the recent emergence and detection of highly transmissible B.1.617.2 variant from 44 countries including India. An inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, BBV152 is currently rolled out under the national COVID-19 vaccination program in India. The neutralization potential of the BBV152 has been already studied with the B.1, B.1.1.7, B.188.8.131.52, B.1.617.1 and found to be effective against these variants,” the study further added.
In order to conduct the evaluation of how Covaxin performs against these variants, the researchers at ICMR-NIV collected sera from 20 recovered patients and 17 people who had received the Covaxin Dose number 2, 28 days earlier.
ICMR-NIV isolates another ‘variant of interest’
Earlier on Tuesday, scientists at the ICMR-NIV said that they have isolated the B.184.108.40.206 variant of SARS-CoV-2. The researchers believe that immunisation with Covaxin will help individuals against this variant which showed an increased disease severity when tested in hamsters.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the variant as a ‘variant of interest’ and the researchers from ICMR-NIV Pune also highlighted that there is need for screening the current vaccines for their efficacy against this variant. The variant was isolated from two travellers in December and January who returned from the UK and Brazil respectively.
These two samples of B.220.127.116.11 variant are the only ones of its kind isolated by Indian labs so far, according to a report by news agency PTI. Researchers highlighted that this variant induced body weight loss, viral reproduction in the respiratory tract, lung lesions, and caused severe lung disease in the hamsters which were tested. Researchers also pointed out that the variant currently does not pose a public health problem for the nation.