Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturing company Bharat Biotech on Wednesday announced that its indigenously-made Covaxin is 81% effective in preventing Covid-19 infections. The vaccine demonstrated high clinical efficacy and significant immunogenicity against variants, the company’s CMD, Krishna Ella, said.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine has an efficacy of 62 percent, Pfizer-BioNTech – 95 percent, Moderna’s vaccine has 94 percent efficacy while Sputnik V has 92 percent efficacy. J&J claims its vaccine has 66 percent efficacy.
Efficacy is calculated in percentage form and denotes the measure of how much protection the vaccine provides against the virus, compared with the situation in which they were not vaccinated. Efficacy is calculated on parameters such as the ability of the shot to prevent mild to severe symptoms from showing even if you have been infected, to preventing you from getting infected with the disease altogether.
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Covaxin, the first indigenously produced vaccine, has previously garnered criticism for being administered to front-line workers in large numbers before all phases of its clinical trials were completed. And so, this announcement is especially significant in lifting a lot of the ambiguity surrounding the homegrown vaccine.
A statement from Bharat Biotech, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said 25,800 participants between 18-98 years of age were enrolled for the Phase 3 study across 25 sites. It included 2,433 over the age of 60 and 4,533 with illness, were randomly divided into two groups. One got the vaccine and the other a placebo.
The first interim analysis is based on 43 cases, of which 36 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus seven cases observed in the Covaxin group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 80.6%. A release said analysis from the National Institute of Virology indicates that vaccine-induced antibodies can neutralize the UK variant strains and other heterologous strains.
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Noting that the vaccine demonstrated the interim efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in those without prior infection after the second dose, the company said the 25,800 participants received a vaccine or placebo in a 1:1 ratio. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech will conduct more tests and expand its trial. It will also release more information about a wider pool of people who tested positive for COVID-19.
Covaxin is one of two Covid vaccines to have been cleared for emergency use. The other is Covishield, which was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and is produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
In the second phase immunization program, which kicked off recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who took the first dose along with many of his Cabinet ministers. The two-dose vaccine, taken 28 days apart, is stable at 2 to 8°C (refrigerated) and shipped in a ready-to-use liquid formulation that permits distribution using existing vaccine supply chain channels.
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