India plans to study effectiveness of AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech vaccines – Metro US

India plans to study effectiveness of AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech vaccines

COVID-19 vaccination in New Delhi
COVID-19 vaccination in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s main health agency will start a study next week to examine the effectiveness of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and the homegrown shot Covaxin against coronavirus, a scientist said on Wednesday.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will review 3,000-5,000 people above 45 years of age, of which up to 80% will be those who have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine made locally by the Serum Institute of India.

The rest will have taken Covaxin jointly developed by local firm Bharat Biotech and ICMR.

“The main objective is to find out whether the vaccine prevents severe disease,” Tarun Bhatnagar told Reuters in a phone interview from the National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) in Chennai, which will lead the study.

“We will compare people who tested negative with people who tested positive with sub-groups to look for those who were symptomatic and those hospitalised or with severe disease,” Bhatnagar said.

The study will also compare the effects of one dose of AstraZeneca shot as against two shots administered, he said.

In Britain, health officials last week said two doses of the vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the coronavirus variant B.1.617, first identified in India last year.

The variant, B.1.617, is a dominant strain driving India’s deadly second wave of COVID-19 cases, health experts say.

India has inoculated only about 3% of its 1.3 billion people, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the most COVID-19 cases.

India’s total coronavirus infections crossed 27 million on Wednesday, swelled by 208,921 new cases over the last 24 hours, while daily deaths from COVID-19 rose by 4,157 to reach 311,388.

(Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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