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Antibodies produced by AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine can limit the severity of covid-19 as well as prevent deaths in individuals who have received both the doses, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) concluded.

This is despite the fact the ability of antibodies in a person receiving the Covishield jabs is reduced when it comes to neutralizing the double mutant variant of the virus as compared to the original strain. “A pair-wise comparison... demonstrated a significant twofold reduction in the neutralization titer of B.1.617.1 (mutant strain first discovered in Maharashtra) compared to B.1 variant (original strain found in Wuhan)" in those receiving Covishield, the paper said.

But in spite of this, it said, “Covishield vaccine-induced antibodies are likely to be protective, limiting the severity and mortality of the disease in the vaccinated individuals."

The research paper, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, was published on bioRxiv, a portal for research pre-prints, on Wednesday. The preliminary lab study was conducted on the blood serum of 43 people who had no history of covid and another 18 people who recovered from the disease. The serum was collected four weeks after the second dose.

The results showed that recovered patients who had received Covishield had a higher antibody response against both variants as compared to those who weren’t infected. And the immune response was better against the original strain as compared to the mutant strain.

The WHO has called B.1.617 a “variant of concern", meaning the mutant strain and its sublineages (B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3) appear to have higher rates of transmission. The strain was first discovered in Maharashtra in October.

Serum Institute did not respond to emailed queries seeking comment till press time.

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