As India plans to vaccinate its population aged above 18 from May 1st, a senior scientist said on Tuesday that Covishield and Covaxin — the two coronavirus vaccines currently in use in India — have efficacy against the ‘Indian strain’ and show “milder” illness in case of infection post vaccination, citing preliminary results of a study.
Anurag Agrawal, the Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), said the study on effectiveness of the available vaccines on the B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2 suggests that post vaccination, the infections are milder reported News 18.
The B.1.617 variant is also being called a ‘double mutant’ or the ‘Indian strain’. “Initial positive neutralisation studies of B.1.617, with both post-Covaxin or Covishield sera, are correlatable with milder disease during post-vaccination breakthrough infections. This is a positive while we get quantitative data for better understanding of infection protection,” Agrawal tweeted.
IGIB is an institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Another study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad under the CSIR suggests that early results using in-vitro neutralisation assay show that both convalescent (prior infection) sera and Covishield-vaccinated sera offer protection against the B.1.617 variant.
“Very preliminary but encouraging result: Covishield protects against B1617. Early results using in vitro neutralization assay show that both convalescent (prior infection) sera and Covishield vaccinated sera offer protection against the B.1.617 variant, aka DoubleMutant, CCMB Director Rakesh Mishra tweeted last week.
The B.1.617 variant has three new spike protein mutations. Two mutations — E484Q and L452R — are in the area important for antibody-based neutralisation.
The third mutation — P681R — allows the virus to enter cells a little better. These are defining characteristics of the variant. The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2 has been found prevalent largely in Maharashtra and Delhi that have been severely hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic.
Some more information of Covaxin and Covishield:
Covaxin: Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV). According to Pharmaeasy, “Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine, which has been prepared on a tried and tested platform of dead viruses.
This vaccine is developed with Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell-derived technology. They contain inactivated viruses, which cannot infect a person but still can teach the immune system to prepare a defence mechanism against the active virus.”
Covishield: Covishield is developed by the Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZeneca and is manufactured in India by Pune’s Serum Institute of India.
According to Pharmaeasy, “Covishield has been prepared using the viral vector platform which is a totally different technology.
A chimpanzee adenovirus – ChAdOx1 – has been modified to enable it to carry the COVID-19 spike protein into the cells of humans. Well, this cold virus is basically incapable of infecting the receiver but can very well teach the immune system to prepare a mechanism against such viruses.”
Both Covishield and Covaxin have been found to be effective in protecting people against COVID-19.