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Covishield, Covaxin protect against 'Indian strain' of COVID-19, shows preliminary study

BusinessToday.In     April 28, 2021

Both of India's vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, have shown efficacy against the "Indian strain" of coronavirus, also known as B.1.617 variant or "double mutant", a new study has found. Preliminary results of the study conducted on the new Indian strain of COVID-19 have revealed that it could generate only "milder" illness in case of infection post-vaccination.

Anurag Agrawal, Director, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), said the initial results showed only mild infections of the new coronavirus strain after people received either of these vaccines.

"Initial positive neutralisation studies of B.1.617, with both post-Covaxin or Covishield sera, are correlatable with milder disease during post-vaccination breakthrough infections. This is a positive while we get quantitative data for better understanding of infection protection," he said via a tweet.

The IGIB operates under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

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Similar results were shown during another study conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, recently. The study also revealed that both vaccines offer protection against the new coronavirus strain. Experts, however, reiterated that these were preliminary findings.

"Very preliminary but encouraging result: #Covishield protects against #B1617. Early results using in vitro neutralisation 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 "Indian strain" or B.1.617 variant of coronavirus has three new spike protein mutations. Two of them -- E484Q and L452R -- are important for antibody-based neutralisation, while the third one -- P681 -- allows the virus to have easy access in our body. The new Indian strain is believed to be more infectious than previous ones and has caused a spurt in coronavirus cases across India.

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As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the new Indian strain of coronavirus has been found in "at least 17 countries". The international health body said the B.1.617 variant was detected in over 1,200 sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database. GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source established in 2008 that provides open access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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