India’s Covaxin shows 'encouraging' efficacy results, potential vs. new COVID-19 variants – envoy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11)— Clinical trials for India's Covaxin have so far showed "encouraging" results, the South Asian country's ambassador to the Philippines said on Thursday, noting that the vaccine also displayed potential in fighting off the new coronavirus variants.

Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran said the vaccine—developed jointly by leading manufacturer Bharat Biotech and government-run Indian Council of Medical Research—has an efficacy rate of 81% following large-scale clinical trials that involved over 25,000 participants.

"We had very, very encouraging results," Kumaran told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"There are studies underway and the initial indications are the vaccine may have encouraging potential against these variants, which I think is actually one of the most significant, strong points of this vaccine as we move ahead," he added.

Covaxin is an inactivated virus-based vaccine—a product that uses a killed form of SARS-CoV-2, one of the oldest and tried-and-tested methods of prompting an antibody response.

EXPLAINER: COVID-19 vaccines that will be tested and used in PH

Kumaran expressed confidence that the vaccine—which has already been rolled out in India—is safe even for the older age groups. He noted even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself got immunized with Covaxin earlier this month.

"As you know Modi is in an age group which is above the age of 65, so that really shows we are confident about the quality of this vaccine with regard to elderly people as well," the envoy said.

Kumaran also said the Philippines and India are set to hold formal negotiations for the purchase of Covaxin, with the latter ready to supply at least 8 million doses.

He added Bharat Biotech has already submitted its Phase 3 clinical trial data to the Food And Drug Administration—the requirement that earlier hampered the vaccine's emergency use application in the Philippines.