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Third Wave Killer? After Import Nod, Moderna Says its Shot Produces Antibodies Against Delta Variant: Report

Vial labelled 'Moderna COVID-19 vaccine' seen in this illustration. (Reuters)

Vial labelled 'Moderna COVID-19 vaccine' seen in this illustration. (Reuters)

Mumbai-based pharma company Cipla has received regulator's approval to import Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use in India.

As Delta variant of the coronavirus starts to threaten a third wave in some countries, Moderna Inc. has said its vaccine produced protective antibodies against it.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Moderna researchers tested blood samples from eight people for antibodies against versions of the spike protein from different coronavirus variants, including delta. The vaccine “produced neutralizing titers against all variants tested," the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Mumbai-based pharma company Cipla has received regulator’s approval to import Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use in India, sources told news agency PTI.

“This permission is for restricted use in emergency situations in public interest. The firm has to submit 7 days safety assessment of the vaccine in first 100 beneficiaries before rolling out of vaccine for further immunisation programme, according to the approval order," an official told PTI.

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The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave.

It has been detected in nine countries, including UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Japan, Nepal, China, and Russia, apart from India.

In Maharashtra, the highest nine cases were reported in Ratnagiri, followed by seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, and one case each in Palghar, Thane and Sindhudurg districts.

The Delta plus variant is not yet a variant of concern’, the Union health ministry said on June 16, due to relatively low incidence.

The earliest sequence of this genome was found in Europe in late March this year.

As India was hit by the second wave of Covid-19 hit earlier this year, experts partly blamed it on a triple mutant of the novel coronavirus of B.1.617.2 lineage, detected in India at the end of last year. The World Health Organization (WTO) named it Delta on May 31. Later, the highly transmissible variant of Sars-CoV-2 mutated further into Delta Plus of AY.1 lineage. Scientists added that there is no immediate cause for concern as its incidence in the country is still low.

The new strain Delta Plus contains a K417N mutation in its spike protein, which has been formally designated B.1.617.2.1. According to media reports, the first sequence of this type was discovered in Europe in March 2021.

The National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) is now studying the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg specimens from Maharashtra to determine the presence of the Delta Plus variation. These two regions specifically have the highest proportion of active infections in India.

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first published:June 30, 2021, 10:10 IST