India’s Covaxin vaccine likely works against UK coronavirus variant, early study suggests

India’s Covaxin vaccine likely works against UK coronavirus variant, early study suggests

A Covid-19 vaccine produced by India’s government research institute Bharat Biotech is expected to work against the extra-contagious strain of the virus first detected in the UK, a new study suggests.

The findings on Covaxin have been published on website bioRxiv, which focuses on research papers not yet certified by peer review. The small-scale study, involving 26 participants, was conducted by the vaccine’s manufacturer itself.

“We successfully isolated and characterized the SARS-CoV-2 from UK returnees in India with all signature mutations of the UK-variant,” the pre-print version of the study reads.

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The test results suggest the vaccine is working against the British variant of the virus, considered to be particularly dangerous due to its especially high contagiousness.

“Sera from the vaccine recipients could neutralize the UK-variant strains discounting the uncertainty around potential escape,” the study reads. “It is unlikely that the mutation 501Y would be able to dampen the potential benefits of the vaccine in concern.”

While the late-stage trials of the homegrown vaccine are ongoing in India, it was approved for emergency use early this month. AstraZeneca’s coronavirus jab, being produced in India under the Covishield brand, has been approved for emergency use as well.

India’s mass-vaccination campaign kicked off mid-January. It has already covered more than two million people, focusing primarily on high risk groups such as doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers.

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The world’s second most populous state, India has detected the second largest number of coronavirus cases, a tally dwarfed only by the US figures. So far, the country has registered more than 10.6 million cases of the disease, with over 150,000 succumbing to the disease.

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