Can the COVAXIN deal with the DELTA variants of COVID-19? Read what the US Experts found out


Research conducted by the US National Institute of Health (NIH) found that Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, India's domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, can generate antibodies, having the ability to neutralise both Alpha and Delta variants of the virus.

"Results from two studies of blood serum from people who had received COVAXIN suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralize the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in the United Kingdom and India, respectively," stated the National Institute of Health.

The top American health research institute explained that an adjuvant developed with funding from the NIH contributed to the success of the "highly efficacious" COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccine, which has been administered to roughly 25 million people to date in India and other countries.

The biotech company, ViroVax LLC of Lawrence, Kansas with support from the NIAID Adjuvant Development Program, discovered the adjuvant used in COVAXIN, Alhydroxiquim-II and tested it in the laboratory, reported the National Institute of Health.

Alhydroxiquim-II contains a small molecule attached in a unique way to Alhydrogel, or alum as it is commonly referred to and used as an adjuvant in human vaccines. Alhydroxiquim-II travels to the lymph nodes, where the small molecule detaches from alum and activates two cellular receptors -- TLR7 and TLR8 – that play a vital role in evoking an immune response to viruses, said NIH. “Consequently, only a small amount of Alhydroxiquim-II is needed in each dose of vaccine, and the adjuvant does not circulate throughout the body, thereby averting more widespread inflammation and undesirable side effects,” it added. 

NIH further explained that the Molecules which activate TLR receptors, boost the immune system powerfully, but the side effects of Alhydroxiquim-II remain mild because after COVAXIN is injected, the adjuvant travels directly to nearby lymph nodes, that contain white blood cells which play an essential role in identifying pathogens and fighting infection.

"Unpublished interim results from phase 3 trials indicate that COVAXIN is 78% efficient against symptomatic disease while its efficacy against severe COVID-19 is 100%. Further, it has shown 70% efficacy against asymptomatic infection with Sars-CoV-2, the COVID-19 well-tolerated NIH noted, stressing that the vaccine is "safe and well-tolerated." Phase 3 trial data has been submitted by the officials to an expert panel that found it to be 77.8% effective against symptomatic COVID-19.

Anthony S Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and a part of NIH, said that ending a global pandemic requires a global response. "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, '' he said.

The press release read that COVAXIN constitutes a disabled form of SARS-CoV-2 that cannot replicate but stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the virus and also added that COVAXIN is "safe and well-tolerated" according to the published results from a phase 2 trial of the vaccine.

COVAXIN, however, has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use listing and explains that "more information is required. The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) also rejected Bharat Biotech’s proposal for an emergency use authorization of the Vaccine.

Rezwana Aktar

Rezwana Aktar

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