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Study claims Covaxin has ability to neutralise new UK Covid strain

India Today logo India Today 27-01-2021 Milan Sharma
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Covaxin, the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by Bharat Biotech, has the ability to neutralise the new UK variant of the virus causing Covid-19, according to a preprint review by bioRxiv, a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences.

The archives operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a not-for-profit research and educational institution in New York.

Bharat Biotech performed the plaque reduction neutralisation test (PRNT50) using sera collected from 26 recipients of Covaxin and tested them against the UK variant and heterologous strain, the study 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 India's indigenous Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. It is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech's BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment facility.

Covaxin is currently 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.

Reacting to the bioRxiv review, ICMR tweeted "Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech with ICMR Delhi has equivalent immunogenicity against the UK-variant and circulating strains of SARS-COV-2 in India. @icmr_niv is the first in the world to culture the UK variant."

As per reports, the genome of the UK-variant has seventeen mutations, eight of which were found in spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) mediating the attachment of the virus to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor on the surface of human cells.

It successfully isolated and characterised the hCoV-19/India/20203522 SARS-CoV-2 (VOC) 202012/01 from UK-returnees in India with all signature mutations of the UK-variant.

Sera collected from 38 vaccine recipients, who received BBV152 vaccine-candidate in Phase-2 trial had equivalent NAb titers to hCoV-19/India/2020770 homologous strain and two heterologous strains with the characteristic N501Y substitution of the UK-variant; hCoV-19/India/20203522 (UK strain) as well as hCoV-19/India/2020Q111.

As per the study, the median ratio of 50 per cent neutralisation of sera was found to be 0.8 when compared with hCoV-19/India/2020770 against mutant hCoV19/India/20203522 (UK strain), and 0.9 while compared with hCoV-19/India/2020Q111.

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