Several people have recently asked me about the Covaxin vaccine. Before I share my opinion and review of the research, I want to emphasize the utmost faith I have in botanical and nutritional medicine as the foundation for health and for supporting our innate capacity to live in harmony with our ever-evolving environment. This includes the viruses and other microbes we come into contact with.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of maintaining health is to support our innate immune function. Vaccines can potentially provide additional support, but we should not rely solely on vaccines for protection.
The Emergence of Concerning COVID Variants
In the last several months, several SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged worldwide. The variants of concern are Alpha (B.1.1.7 ), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (B.22.214.171.124) and Delta (B.1.617.2). These are potentially serious public health threats because of their association with higher transmissibility and the potential of immune escape. Various reports have been published on the immune escape of the Beta variant, and this has caused serious concern for the COVID-19 vaccination program.,
Another focus of global concern is the recent emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant from India and various other countries. An inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, BBV152 (now called the Covaxin vaccine), was rolled out under the national COVID-19 vaccination program in India. The neutralization potential of the BBV152 has been already studied with the B.1, Alpha, Zeta, and Kappa variants and was found to be effective.
The Covaxin Vaccine Offers Promise Against Variants
The Covaxin vaccine contains an inactive (dead) form of the virus. Like the other current Covid vaccines, it is given as an injection into the muscle of the upper arm. Once injected, it provokes an immune response that can block or kill the virus’s future infections/invasions, without actually causing the disease. The Covaxin vaccine is given in two doses. The second dose of the vaccine can be taken four to six weeks after the first dose.
A phase II clinical trial (two months after the second dose of vaccine) evaluated 42 participants immunized with the Covaxin vaccine. Neutralizing antibody titers of all the serum specimens were evaluated against the B.126.96.36.199 variant using plaque reduction neutralization test. The neutralizaton activity of B.188.8.131.52 was compared to the prototype D614G variant, as the Covaxin vaccine was developed using that variant. The study showed that the two-dose Covaxin regimen significantly boosted the IgG titer and the neutralizing efficacy against both the variants compared to that seen with natural infection.
The Covaxin vaccine phase-3 clinical trials enrolled approximately 26,175 people, making it the largest clinical trial in India. Covaxin vaccine results have shown an efficacy of 81%. However, it is still unclear how long the vaccine provides protection from the virus.