Covaxin Booster Shot May Work On Variants: ICMR-NIV
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With Covid variants likely to define the next phase of the pandemic, scientists at Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) have said a Covaxin booster dose may offer a solution against the virus and offer long-term protection. Some nations are exploring a booster dose against Covid with other vaccines. Similar research is being considered in India too, said ICMR-NIV director Priya Abraham.

Essentially, a booster shot, given after the first two doses of vaccine, may have to be given regularly. A person receiving a booster will not have to repeat an entire two-dose schedule. Abraham said, “Covaxin could be more effective at tackling variants. It can play a useful role as a booster vaccine because both antibodies and cells of the immune system are able to recognise and neutralise more proteins of the virus, apart from the spike protein.”

Booster shots with a whole virus inactivated vaccine have proven to work well after two doses of any vaccine. “Inactivated vaccines, in general, can trigger a strong immune reaction, though it may not be the same as the immune response to live attenuated vaccines. So a person may need booster shots to ensure long-term protection,” Abraham said.

“Valneva’s inactivated vaccine, VLA2001, is part of a UK government-funded trial looking at seven different Covid booster vaccines. Covaxin can be considered as a booster dose as and when that becomes a recommendation in India and also in other countries,” Abraham said.

One of Covaxin’s key selling points is its apparent ability to mount a broader immune response against the whole SARS-CoV-2 virus, instead of just focusing on the spike protein. Various studies have found that the vaccine is effective against different Variants of Concern. The adjuvant (algel-IMDG) in Covaxin also stimulates a good antibody as well as a cell-mediated immune response.

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