Covishield, Covaxin can neutralize ‘double mutant’ of coronavirus, study suggests


The two coronavirus vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, currently in use in India have shown efficacy against the B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV-2, also called the ‘Indian strain’ or a ‘double mutant’ variant.

Covaxin has been produced by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. Covishield has been developed by the Serum Institute of India.

The Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology (IGIB): Study Findings

In a study on the effectiveness of the available vaccines on the B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV-2, Anurag Agrawal, the Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) said that the infections are milder post-vaccination.

“Initial positive neutralization studies of B.1.617, with both post-Covaxin or Covishield sera, are correlatable with milder disease during post-vaccination breakthrough infections. This is positive while we get quantitative data for a better understanding of infection protection,” Agrawal, Director, IGIB tweeted.

The Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology (IGIB) is a scientific research institute that is a part of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India. The institute was founded in 1977 and primarily focused on conducting biological research.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB): Study Findings

A study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, showed that Covishield offers protection against the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus.

“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 double mutant,” tweeted Rakesh Mishra, Director, Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

About the B.1.617 variant, also called ‘double mutant’

The B.1.617 variant, is also called ‘double mutant’ or ‘Indian variant’.

The ‘double mutant’ variant carries as many as 15 mutations but the two mutations – E484Q and L425R have been of major concern due to their ability to escape the immune system.

Dr Vinod Scaria, a senior scientist at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), a CSIR lab, said that these two mutations individually, E484Q and L425R, make the virus more infectious and escape the immune system.

The ‘double mutant’ variant was found in 60 per cent to 70 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra. This variant has also been one of the reasons for the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases during the ongoing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

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