Preliminary Study Shows Covishield Protects Against Double Mutant Strain: CCMB Director

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Covishield fights double mutant: A latest study has shown that the Covishield vaccine offers protection from the double mutant variant first detected in India, Rakesh Mishra, director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) said on Thursday.

It was recently announced by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that Covaxin fights the double mutant, B.1.617. Now, Hyderabad-based CCMB has confirmed that the Covishield vaccine, too, protects people from the new variant of coronavirus.

The CCMB is an institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Calling the studies “very preliminary” yet provided with “encouraging result”, Mishra said in a tweet, “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.”

Earlier, he had said the next three weeks are crucial for India and that it is very important for people to follow guidelines “very strictly”.

The Oxford-Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The “double mutant” is said to be the primary reason for the sudden spike in the number of cases in Maharashtra and other parts of the country.

The B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, also known as the double mutant strain, was first detected in Maharashtra in October, according to the GISAID global database. It contains mutations from two separate virus variants, namely – E484Q and L452R – and hence, referred to as a “double mutant” variant.

Reportedly, CCMB found the result after studying the convalescent plasma from people who have been infected and have already recovered. All were tested in the CSIR lab. “The study, though preliminary, does show that vaccination with Covishield offers protection against the double mutant variant. So people should go ahead and get vaccinated quickly,” said Mishra. “The preliminary study also suggests that convalescent plasma may offer protection against reinfection with the double mutant variant. Studies using plasma from more recovered and vaccinated people of different age groups are needed for confirmation.”