Covaxin can be modified to neutralise South African variant in 15 days: Bharat Biotech

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COVAXIN, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Makers of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech has said that they can modify the vaccine against coronavirus South African variant within 15 days. Bharat Biotech’s developed India’s own vaccine Covaxin against Covid-19 and was rolled out on January 16.

Addressing a Bio-Asia 2021 panel discussion on Monday, Bharat Biotech’s CMD Dr Krishna Ella said that they can re-engineer the vaccine to neutralise the South African variant of the coronavirus within 15 provided they get access to its isolated strain from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The Hyderabad-based company has already supplied 5.5 million doses of its vaccine Covaxin, developed with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research, to the inoculation campaign in India. The Indian government will be buying another 4.5 million doses for the ongoing domestic vaccination programme, the Bharat Biotech spokesperson said.

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There is a growing demand for Indian vaccines amid the huge shortage that has developed for the shots worldwide. Besides, Indian vaccines are much cheaper and easier to handle as they can be stored at ordinary refrigeration temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius unlike Western-made vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna which have to be kept at minus 80 degrees Celsius and require expensive cold-chain infrastructure.

India has in a sense emerged as the “pharmacy of the world” as 15 countries have already received India-made vaccines, including neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka while another 25 nations are in the queue for the shots.

Bharat Biotech has applied to conduct a Phase III trial for Covaxin in Brazil, a country that plans to import 8 million doses of it in February and another 12 million in March. Besides, Bharat Biotech has sought emergency use authorisation in the Philippines.

(With inputs from IANS)

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