Covaxin, India's home-grown Covid vaccine produced by Bharat Biotech, has been found to neutralise the B.1.617 variant or the Indian double mutant strain, White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday.
"Now, this is something where we're still gaining data on a daily basis. But the most recent data was looking at convalescent sera of COVID-19 cases in people who received the vaccine used in India, the Covaxin. And it was found to neutralise the 617 variant," he said, according to news agency PTI.
"So despite the real difficulty that we're seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote against this," Dr Fauci was quoted as telling reporters.
"So I'll stop there with the final statement. The one thing you can gather from everything I've said: that it's very important to get vaccinated."
Covaxin was developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and was approved for emergency use on January 3 while still in clinical trial.
Trial results later showed the vaccine has an efficacy of 78 per cent, according to ICMR.
The B.1.617 variant, mostly found in Covid cases in Maharashtra and Delhi, has three new spike protein mutations. This variant is said to be pushing the deadly second surge in Covid across the country.
Covaxin uses dead viruses and works by teaching the immune system to make antibodies against the coronavirus. When Covaxin is administered, immune cells recognise the dead virus, prompting the immune system to make antibodies to fight the coronavirus.
WHO on Tuesday said the B.1.617 that a variant of Covid-19 feared to be contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India has been found in over a dozen countries.
The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 first found in India had as of Tuesday been detected in over 1,200 sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database "from at least 17 countries".
"Most sequences were uploaded from India, the United Kingdom, USA and Singapore," the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
The WHO recently listed B.1.617 as a "variant of interest" and said it had been found in 17 countries.
India's Covid cases smashed a new record today with 3.6 lakh cases and over 3,000 deaths in 24 hours.