A day after the World Health Organisation approved emergency use listing for Covovax, a top Indian government scientist has recommended that it be used as a booster shot to counter the threat posed by the emerging omicron variant of coronavirus.
According to a report, Anurag Agrawal, one of the directors of the government's genome sequencing monitoring agency INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium), said Covovax “induces a strong immune response and has an excellent safety profile.”
Anurag Agrawal said Covovax has greater efficacy as a booster dose than Covishield. He did, however, clarify that further clinical studies are required on how much resistance Novovax provides against the Omicron variant.
“I do not think that the approved version, based on ancestral spike protein, will be directly very effective against Omicron since its efficacy against Beta was around 50 per cent (much better than AZ though). It is however better than a third dose AstraZeneca/Covishield as a booster,” he said.
Anurag Agrawal comparing Covovax’s immune-response against data from COV-Boost’s vaccine trial said, “The immune boost, after two doses of AZ/Covishield, was far better for this than inactivated virus vaccine in COV-BOOST. Also, rapid modification of protein is possible for variant-specific immune response.”
He added that the WHO approval was good news for India, and that the government shouldn’t waste much time in rolling out Covovax as a booster dose.
Covovax is the Indian version of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax Inc and manufactured under licence by the Serum Institute of India (SII). It is a recombinant protein vaccine that uses spike proteins to teach the body how to develop immunity against the novel coronavirus.
Novavax vaccine, as Covovax is known as outside India, demonstrated 90.4 per cent efficacy in a clinical trial involving 29,960 people in South Africa. The efficacy is on par with rival candidates from Pfizer and Moderna. It showed an efficacy of 100 per cent at preventing moderate or severe disease, the New York Times reported.
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