Covaxin, the Made-in-India vaccine for the Covid-19 virus has been found to neutralise the B.1.617 variant or the Indian double mutant strain, said White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, while speaking to reporters during a conference call on Tuesday, said: “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 and people who received the vaccine used in India, the Covaxin.” It was found to neutralise the 617 variants, he added.

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India is facing the worst form of the pandemic in its second wave and so fat more than 17.9 million people have been hit by the virus. For the country, which is reporting over 3 lakh cases daily for the last few days, the statement is good news. “Despite the real difficulty that we’re seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote against this,” Dr Fauci told reporters.

Covaxin, which has been developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was approved for emergency use on January 3. Though the vaccine is still in clinical trial. The vaccine has an efficacy of 78 per cent, according to ICMR.

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Emphasising on the need to take a Covid jab, Dr Fauci said, “The one thing you can gather from everything I’ve said is that it’s very important to get vaccinated.”

What is the B.1.617 variant?

The B.1.617 variant, mostly found in Covid cases India – even more in Maharashtra and Delhi – has three new spike protein mutations. This variant is said to be the reason behind the deadly second surge of Covid cases in India.

The B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, which WHO says was first detected in India, is now existing in 17 other countries.