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Covishield, Covaxin effective against ‘Indian strain’ of COVID-19

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, a senior scientist said on April 27, citing preliminary results of a study.

Anurag Agrawal, the Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), said the study on the effectiveness of the available vaccines on the B.1.617 variant SARS-CoV2 suggests that post-vaccination, the infections are milder.

The B.1.617 variant is also called a ‘double mutant’ or the ‘Indian strain.’

‘Initial positive neutralization studies of B.1.617, with both post-Covaxin or Covishield sera, are correlatable with the milder disease during post-vaccination breakthrough infections. This is 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 neutralization 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 neutralization.

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.

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