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As India battles ferocious second wave of coronavirus, newly detected Delta (B.1.617.2) and Beta (B.1.351) variants of COVID-19 have become new strains of concern as cases are surging in some pockets of the country. First detected in India, the Delta COVID-19 variant is a highly transmissible variant of coronavirus which has the ability to evade the immune system of individuals and cause serious health complications. However, in a recent study, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revealed that Bharat Biotech's Covaxin offers significant protection against both Beta and Delta variants of coronavirus.
Both the Delta (B.1.617.2) and Beta (B.1.351) variants of COVID-19 are under observation by the researchers due to their impact on existing vaccines and the antibodies offered by them. Raising concern, the WHO earlier this month stated that both the Delta and Beta COVID-19 variants are highly infectious and pose huge transmissibility by escaping the immune system.
In the study, published in the Journal of Travel Medicine, the ICMR stated that in a sample of blood taken from the ones who had received the Covaxin has shown the characteristics of neutralising the Beta and Delta variants.
The government on Thursday said it is "actively pursuing" the enhancement of Covid vaccine availability through imports and reiterated that its current focus is on purposing domestic production towards its vaccination programme. At an online media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India hopes that individual countries would increasingly recognise made-in-India vaccines. "Let me reiterate that our current focus continues to be on purposing domestic production towards India's domestic vaccination programme," he said. "We are also actively pursuing the enhancement of vaccine availability through imports. This has helped increase the pace of vaccination in recent weeks," Bagchi said.
Currently, three COVID-19 vaccines -- Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, Covishield by Serum Institute of India (SII), and Russia's Sputnik V -- are being used for inoculation in India. The total number of vaccine doses administered so far has reached 36.48 crore under the nationwide vaccination drive. Asked about the World Health Organization approval for Covaxin, Bagchi said the government is continuing to monitor the progress and added, "I would refer you to Bharat Biotech for the exact status of where it stands." "We also hope that individual countries would increasingly recognize made-in-India vaccines," he said.
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