‘Bharat Biotech vaccine may have some advantages...’: ICMR chief on Covaxin, mutant strain
The director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research Dr Balram Bhargava on Sunday said that the Bharat Biotech vaccine may have some advantages over other vaccines on the new mutant strain first detected in the UK, which has already infected 29 patients in India. His observations came amid politicians from several opposition parties raising doubts over the efficacy of Covaxin, which got approval for restricted emergency use in India. ICMR has collaborated with Bharat Biotech to develop this vaccine. Pune’s National Institute of Virology is another partner of this indigenous vaccine project.
The NIV has also successfully isolated and cultured the UK-variant of the virus, first in the world, as ICMR said on Saturday.
“NIV scientists have successfully isolated the new virus strain and this will be tested against different vaccines. We hope potentially Bharat Biotech vaccine will have some advantages over other vaccines on this new strain,,” Dr Bhargava said.
The third phase trial of the Bharat Biotech vaccine is going on. There is no data on its efficacy percentage so far, which is why the vaccine is facing so many questions. But the apex drug controller body has said that the vaccine has been found effective in its non-human and human trials so far. Though it has been approved for emergency use, its trial will continue.
But what makes experts think that Covaxin might be more effective than Oxford’s Covishield to combat the new strain? Covaxin is a whole virion inactivated Covid-19 vaccine while Oxford vaccine works differently — it produces surface spike protein priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria too has said that Bharat Biotech vaccine will be a back-up or for emergency use where the effectiveness of the Oxford vaccine is not certain.
“We don’t know for how long a vaccine is going to be effective, we don’t know how much of the population we will have to vaccinate to break the virus transmission. What we know is that we have been able to control the pandemic in the country by following Covid appropriate behaviour,” Bhargava told ANI.