‘More Data Needed’: Is Covaxin Effective Against Variants?

Bharat Biotech said that there is “no information yet” about Covaxin’s effectiveness against the new variants.

2 min read
Covaxin has been authorised for use without the tag of ‘clinical trial mode’.

On Wednesday, 21 April, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) tweeted that their study showed that the Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine “effectively neutralises against multiple variants and the double mutant strain also.”

They added that the ICMR-National Institute of Virology had 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) - and demonstrated Covaxin can potentially neutralise the UK and Brazil variant.

They have also isolated and cultured the double mutant strain, called a variant of interest so far, found in India - B.1.617 and Covaxin has been found to neutralise this as well. As per a press release by the Indian government, the double mutation has been found in several countries like Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the US as well.

However, manufacturer Bharat Biotech said that there is “no information yet” about Covaxin’s effectiveness against the new variants.

Bharat Biotech Says No Data on Effectiveness Against New Variants and Double Mutations

While the government has spoken about Covaxin’s effectiveness against the new variants, Bharat Biotech chairperson Krishna Ella told NDTV that the government has to ask for a vaccine specific to the new double mutant that is pushing the current surge of virus cases, reported NDTV.

I don’t know about the South African. variant yet, but coming to the Indian double mutant, we don’t have knowledge, we will have data in about a week.
Krishna Ella to NDTV

He added, “If the Indian government feels that the double mutant might be an important vaccine candidate, this is regulatory, the government has to take the decision, not a manufacturer. There is flexibility." The final decision would be in the hands of the government he said.

So far, there is no data on if the vaccine will work against the double mutant.

"I don't want people to bug me saying you said one takes time for us because it has to work in BSL 3 (Biosafety level 3). We are very serious about it, how do we need to put the regulatory people in the game and change the strain quickly? We don't want a vaccine which doesn't work,” he added.

Covaxin to Ramp Up Production

As India opens up vaccination to all above 18 years of age from 1 May, Bharat Biotech will produce 30 million doses of Covaxin next month as compared to the 15 million in March to support the vaccination drive, said Ella.

Bharat Biotech issued a statement that announced the company will increase Covaxin production capacity to 700 million doses per year.

(With inputs from NDTV.)

(This story was first published on FIT.)

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