Bharat Biotech on Sunday said its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin has been found to be effective against coronavirus strains found in India and the United Kingdom. Citing a study published in peer-reviewed medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the Hyderabad-based vaccine major noted that vaccination with Covaxin produced neutralising titres against all key emerging variants tested, including B.1.617 and B.1.1.7, first identified in India and the UK, respectively. The study was conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology and Indian Council of Medical Research, it added.
"Covaxin gets international recognition yet again, by scientific research data published demonstrating protection against the new variants. Yet another feather in its cap," Bharat Biotech co-founder and Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella said in a tweet. She also tagged PMO India, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, among others, in the tweet.
The study found a modest reduction in neutralisation by a factor of 1.95 against B.1.617 variant compared to vaccine variant D614G, Bharat Biotech noted. Despite this reduction, neutralising titre levels with B.1.617 remain above levels expected to be protective, it added.
The Hindu on May 14 reported that while Covaxin and Covishield are effective against the coronavirus variants, they produce fewer antibodies against the variant found in India, B.1.617. However, several scientists told The Hindu that this does not mean the vaccines are not effective against the variant. Covishield and Covaxin were â€śalmost similarlyâ€ť protective against the variant, Dr Samiran Panda, who heads the Epidemiology Division at the ICMR, Delhi, told The Hindu.
Covaxin recently received permission from India's apex drug regulator for conducting the phase II/III clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine in the age group of 2 to 18 years, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday. The trial will be conducted on 525 healthy volunteers and in the trial, the vaccine will be given by intramuscular route in two doses at day 0 and day 28.
"The National Regulator of the country, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), after careful examination, has accepted the recommendation of Subject Expert Committee (SEC) and accorded permission to conduct the Phase II/III clinical trial of Covaxin (COVID vaccine) in the age group 2 to 18 years, to its manufacturer Bharat Biotech Ltd on May 12," the ministry said.
Covaxin, which has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is being used on adults in India's ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive.