A health worker prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at a vaccination center in Kolkata, India on April 24. Sudipta Das / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci said India’s home-grown Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin neutralizes the B1.617 variant, which was first identified in the South Asian nation.
“In this (B1.617 variant) we still receive data on a daily basis, but the most recent data concerned convalescent sera from Covid-19 cases and people who received the Covaxin vaccine used in India. It was found to neutralize the 617 variants, “said Fauci, director of the National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, during a virtual press conference by the White House’s Covid-19 response team on Tuesday.
He referred to it as “Troubled India 617” and added, “Despite the real trouble we are seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote to it.”
Covaxin is 78% effective against coronavirus, according to data released on April 21 by Bharat Biotech, the company that co-developed the drug with the government-led Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Its effectiveness against severe Covid-19 was 100% which, according to the publication, had an impact on reducing hospital admissions.
The vaccine clinical trial enrolled 25,800 participants, ages 18 to 98. The effectiveness is based on an early analysis of 43 Covid-19 cases. Thirty-six cases occurred in participants who received a placebo compared to seven participants who received the vaccine. This emerges from a press release published in March
About the vaccine: Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be fully developed in India. In March 2020, following the successful sequencing of the novel coronavirus, the ICMR established a public-private partnership with Bharat Biotech to develop the virus isolate into a vaccine candidate.
At a webinar on April 23, India’s leading epidemiological experts recognized that there are correlations between the rising prevalence of the B1.617 variant and the recent surge in cases in the country.
“In Maharashtra we saw it go up (the variant first identified in India). We saw an outbreak. We saw it go up in Delhi. We saw an outbreak. These are very important epidemiological links.” said Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute for Genomics and Integrative Biology. According to Agrawal, variant B1.617 was first found in India in December.
Another expert said the surge in the Delhi capital region was due to the proliferation of variants, including both variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, and variant B1.617.
“We saw an increase from 28 percent in mutant variants in the second week of March … to 50 percent in the last week of March … the increase we see in Delhi, I think, correlates directly with the type of variants that we are watching, ”said Sujeet Singh, Director of the National Center for Disease Control.
India reported 360,960 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a world record for the number of new cases per day. This emerges from a CNN balance sheet by the Indian Ministry of Health.
The total number of cases now stands at 17,997,267, including 201,187 deaths.