Indian pharmaceutical firm, Bharat Biotech, has been putting vaccines in a limited way, but the rapid supply of Covaxin is made in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research. US’ Health Research Institute said it is effective against the virus and has the strength to neutralise Alpha and Delta Variants.
The top health institute, which has a record of strong scientific collaboration with India, said that outcomes of two studies of blood serum from people who had been administered Covaxin showcase that the vaccine enables antibodies that effectively neutralise the B.1.1.7 (Alpha – first discovered in the UK) and B.1.617 (Delta – first found in India) variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Adjuvants are substances composed as part of a vaccine to enhance immune responses and improve a vaccine’s effectiveness. The health institute said that an adjuvant named Alhydroxiquim-II developed with funding from it has led to the success of the Covaxin, which has been given to nearly 25 million people in India and other parts of the world.
It is the first adjuvant in an authorised vaccine against a transmissible disease to activate receptors TLR7 and TLR8 that play a crucial role in the immune response to viruses. It was found and experimented in a laboratory by the biotech company ViroVax LLC of Lawrence, Kansas, with assistance from the NIAID Adjuvant Development Program.
The vaccine consists of a disabled form of SARS-CoV-2, which cannot replicate but still boosts the immune system to make antibodies against the virus. The institute stated that the published outcomes from a phase 2 trial of the vaccine demonstrate that it is safe and well-tolerated, and the safety data from a phase 3 trial of Covaxin will become available after some months.
“Meanwhile, unpublished interim results from the phase 3 trial indicate that the vaccine has 78% efficacy against symptomatic disease, 100 percent efficacy against severe COVID-19, including hospitalisation, and 70% efficacy against asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” News agency PTI quoted the National Institute of Health as saying. Efficacy refers to the degree of protection that a vaccine provides against a disease after successful vaccination.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who is part of the institute, said that a global pandemic could end with a worldwide response towards tackling the disease. But, he added, “I am pleased that a novel vaccine adjuvant developed in the US with NIAID support is part of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine available to people in India.”
Bharat Biotech agreed to a licensing deal with Dr David to use Alhydroxiquim-II in their candidate vaccines. This license was granted during the COVID-19 pandemic to include Covaxin, which has been notified for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in India and over a dozen other countries.
“The company conducted extensive safety studies of Alhydroxiquim-II and undertook the complex process of scaling up production of the adjuvant under Good Manufacturing Practice standards. As a result, Bharat Biotech expects to produce an estimated 700 million doses of Covaxin by the end of 2021,” the health institute further said.