Researchers from ICMR and Bharat Biotech post results on bioRxiv pre-print server
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has been found to neutralise the U.K. variant with “similar efficiency” as the strain used for making the vaccine and hence “dispels the uncertainty of possible neutralisation escape” following vaccination, say results posted on bioRxiv pre-print server.
Pre-prints are yet to be peer-reviewed and published in medical journals. The work was carried out by researchers from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad.
The sera from people vaccinated with Covaxin were tested against the same strain used for making the vaccine, another strain found in India but different from the one used for making the vaccine and the U.K. variant.
The median ratio of 50% neutralisation of sera was found to be 80% for the U.K. variant and 90% for the strain circulating in India, but different from the one used for making the vaccine, Dr. Samiran Panda of ICMR and one of the authors of the pre-print told The Hindu.
The study was conducted using the sera collected from 38 people who have been vaccinated with Covaxin during the Phase-2 trial. Researchers from ICMR’s Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) and Bharat Biotech found that the vaccine has “comparable neutralisation activity” against the U.K. variant and the strain used for making the vaccine.
The U.K. variant was isolated and characterised from people returning from the U.K. The variant isolated from U.K. returnees had “all signature mutations of the UK variant”, they say.
Sera collected from 38 vaccine recipients during the Phase-2 trial had “equivalent neutralising antibodies” to the strain used for making the vaccine; the strain circulating in India but different from the one used for making the vaccine; and the U.K. variant.
The Covaxin developed indigenously can be expected to work against the new U.K. variant, says Dr. Panda. The pre-print says “it is unlikely that the 501Y mutation found in the UK variant would be able to dampen the potential benefits of the vaccine in concern”.