Vaccine effective against Indian variant: Study

Authors argue against use of term ‘double mutant’

Vaccine effective against Indian variant: Study

After Covaxin and Covishield, Pfizer too has been found to be effective against the Indian Covid variant, a new study has found.

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 11

After Covaxin and Covishield, Pfizer too has been found to be effective against the Indian Covid variant, a new study has found. The research, currently under peer review, concludes that Pfizer prevents severe disease in those infected with B.1.617 variant.

Though researchers have documented partial ability of the Indian variant to escape vaccine-elicited antibodies, they say these are too mild to escape jab effectiveness.

“While the Indian variant has some ability to avoid neutralising antibodies elicited by vaccination, it is very mild. The vaccine continues to be effective against the variant and prevent severe disease,” Anurag Agarwal, Director, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, told The Tribune a day after the WHO classified the Indian variant as a “variant of concern”.

Agarwal said India had classified B.1.617 as a “variant of concern” long ago.

“When the WHO does the same thing, it applies to the world. Otherwise B.1.617 has been a variant of concern in India. The moot point here is that as of today, there is no evidence that variants can escape vaccine effectiveness,” he said.

The B.1.617 variant emerged in Maharashtra in late 2020 and has spread throughout India and at least 40 countries. It is linked to the massive Covid surge in India over the past 1.5 months. The authors further argue against using the term “double mutant” for the Indian variant, saying, “The fold reduction in the ability of two key mutations of B.1.617 — L452R and E484Q — to avoid neutralising antibodies elicited by the vaccine was no greater than the individual mutations alone, arguing against use of the term double mutant.”

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