Covishield vaccine offers protection from a double mutant variant of novel coronavirus, shows a study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

CCMB director Rakesh K. Mishra termed this as a very preliminary but encouraging result.

“Early results using in vitro neutralization assay show that both convalescent (prior infection) sera and Covishield vaccinated sera offer protection against the B.1.617 variant, aka double mutant,” Mishra tweeted.

The CCMB’s finding came close on the heels of an announcement by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that Covaxin neutralises multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 and effectively works against the double mutant strain as well.

Covaxin is India’s first indigenous Covid vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR.

Covishield has been developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca and is being produced by Serum Institute of India, Pune.

Both Covaxin and Covishield are part of India’s ongoing Covid vaccination programme.

The ‘double mutant’ (B.1.617) is said to be responsible for the current surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and other states in India.

Scientists earlier feared that vaccines may not offer protection from ‘double mutant’ as it may escape the immune system.

After the CCMB’s latest announcement that Covishield too offers protection from ‘double mutant’, experts say this again underscore the need for people to get vaccinated.

CCMB scientist Divya Tej Sowpati tweeted that the convalescent sera is from September 2020, hence most likely of an infection of a variant which is not B.1.617.

He also pointed to misinformation and confusion about the circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants in India.

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