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After Moderna, Now Bharat Biotech Claims Covaxin Effectively Neutralises New Coronavirus Strain

The statement from Bharat Biotech comes at a time when the presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by several countries.

Published: January 27, 2021 4:53 PM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Manmath Nayak

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New Delhi: Days after Moderna claimed that its Covid-19 vaccine has the ability to protect against the new coronavirus strain, Bharat Biotech on Wednesday claimed its coronavirus vaccine which is called as Covaxin, too, has been found effective against the UK variant of the virus. Notably, the new coronavirus strain is 70 per cent more infectious than the Wuhan strain and is more lethal.

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“Covaxin effectively neutralises UK variants of SARS-CoV-2 reducing the possibility of mutant virus escape,” Bharat Biotech said in a tweet on Tuesday, along with a link to its research paper.

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The development comes after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for emergency use in the country.

The statement from Bharat Biotech comes at a time when the presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by several countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore. Taking preventive measures, the Centre has put in place a proactive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant. At present, over 150 cases of the new strain have surfaced in India, so far.

Moreover, India had suspended all flights coming from the UK from December 23 till January 7 and mandatory testing of all UK-returned air passengers through RT-PCR test was carried out.

The Bharat Biotech said this after finding a preprint review by bioRxiv, a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences. The archive is operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a not-for-profit research and educational institutionin New York.

Bharat Biotech performed the plaque reduction neutralisation test (PRNT50) using sera collected from the 26 recipients of Covaxin and tested them against the UK variant and heterologous strain, the report said.

“A comparable neutralisation activity of sera of the vaccinated individuals showed against UK-variant and the heterologous strain with similar efficiency, dispel the uncertainty of possible neutralisation escape,” the preprint review published in bioRxivs website said.

Covaxin is at present under Phase-3 trials and is being used as part of the nationwide immunisation programme for healthcare workers after the Central Licensing Authority granted permission for the sale or distribution of Covaxin for restricted use in emergency situations.

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Published Date: January 27, 2021 4:53 PM IST