In a massive endorsement to the Indian-made Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, the top medical research agency of the United States government has stated that India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine effectively neutralises both the Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Delta (B.1.617) variants that caused the second wave of the Chinese pandemic across the country.
The National Institute of Health, the primary agency of the US government responsible for biomedical and public health research, has endorsed Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, stating that the vaccine effectively neutralises both Alpha and Delta variants of coronavirus.
Following its latest results, the NIH said their analysis of blood serum from two people who had received Covaxin showed them that the vaccine generated antibodies that effectively neutralise the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of Sars-CoV-2.
It is worth noting that according to a significant discovery made by scientists, the origins of the B.1.617 strain of the Sars-Cov2 virus are traced to the United States and Denmark. The B.1.617 strain is largely responsible for the ongoing second wave in India, and it was being dubbed as the Indian variant. However, now scientists have determined that the mutations present in the variant had first emerged in California and Denmark.
According to WHO, Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far, which has been identified in at least 85 countries.
Adjuvant developed with a partnership with Bharat Biotech contributed to success: NIH
The top American health research institute also said that an adjuvant developed by Bharat Biotech with funding from the institute contributed to the success of Covaxin, which has been inoculated to nearly 25 million people in India and abroad.
Adjuvants are substances formulated along with the vaccine to increase immune responses and enhance the effectiveness of the vaccine. An adjuvant named Alhydroxiquim-II, developed the biotech company ViroVax LLC of Lawrence, Kansas with support from the NIAID Adjuvant Development Program, was used in Covaxin.
According to NIH, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin comprises a disabled form of Sars-CoV-2 that cannot replicate, however still stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the virus. “The published results from a phase 2 trial of the vaccine indicate that it is safe and well-tolerated,” the NIH said, adding that safety data from a phase 3 trial of Covaxin will be made public by this year end.
“Meanwhile, unpublished interim results from the phase 3 trial indicate that the vaccine has 78% efficacy against symptomatic disease, 100 per cent efficacy against severe Covid-19, including hospitalisation, and 70% efficacy against asymptomatic infection with Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19,” it said.
Further, the NIH said, “The results from two studies of blood serum from people who had received Covaxin suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralise the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of Sars-CoV-2, first identified in the UK and India, respectively,” the NIH said.
Earlier, Anthony S Fauci, America’s top pandemic expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of NIH, had said that India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin has been found to neutralize the B.1.617 variant of the deadly virus.
“I am pleased that a novel vaccine adjuvant developed in the US with NIAID support is part of an efficacious Covid-19 vaccine available to people in India,” Dr Fauci said reacting to the recent studies.
Covaxin and Covishield effective against all four variants of Covid-19: Indian govt
The centre has stated that both Indian-made vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin work against Sars-CoV-2 variants Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, while effectiveness tests against the Delta Plus variant are ongoing, the government said on Friday. Currently, there are four variants of concern of the coronavirus disease, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, with Delta Plus being a sub-lineage of the Delta variant has also caused concerns for health experts in the country.
Addressing a press conference, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said reduction of neutralisation capabilities of vaccine with different variants, which is based on global literature, shows that Covaxin does not change with the Alpha variant at all and so it is same as it is with the standard strain.
“Covishield reduces slightly with Alpha, by 2.5 times. “Covaxin is effective for the Delta variant, but antibody response is slightly reduced to a three-fold reduction for Covishield, a two-fold reduction for Pfizer and Moderna, and a seven-fold reduction for Pfizer and Moderna,” he said.