Amidst the Coronavirus vaccine shortage, the central government has for the first time placed an advance order of 300 million vaccine doses from Hyderabad-based pharma company Biological E’s vaccine ‘Corbevax.’ The decision assumes significance as the government has placed its bet on the vaccine candidate even before it completes its third phase clinical trial. The government is also understood to have transferred Rs 1500 crore as part of its advance order to the pharma company. Having learnt the hard way the cost of not contacting the foreign vaccine manufacturers in advance, the central government has this time secured the deal for 300 million doses of the vaccine which could vaccinate about 15 crore population of the country, the Indian Express reported.
How is Corbevax different from other vaccines?
Vaccines are categorised on the basis of the development process adopted by scientists as there are myriad ways in which vaccines could be developed. For example, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines developed in the US are mRNA vaccines whereas the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine being manufactured by Serum Institute in the country is a kind of viral vector vaccine. Similarly, the indigenously developed Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is categorised as an inactivated vaccine. While all vaccines are designed to trigger a strong immune response against the virus, there are different processes in which they could be developed.
Corbevax vaccine which is presently under the third phase clinical trial is a “recombinant protein sub-unit” vaccine. The vaccine has been developed using a specific part of SARS-CoV-2- the spike protein of the virus. The vaccine has been designed in a way that only the spike protein of the virus is inserted in the human body and other lethal constituents of the virus are separated from the vaccine. The spike protein of the vaccine alone will help the human body to mount a strong immune response against the virus and prevent infection. The same technology is used by pharma companies to develop and manufacture vaccines against hepatitis B.
Is Corbavex vaccine the second indigenous vaccine from India?
While the vaccine candidate will be indigenously produced and manufactured by Hyderabad-based Biological E, the vaccine has been developed at the Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine in the United States. Since the genetic sequence of Coronavirus was made available by the Chinese government in February last year, the Baylor College had been working on the development of the vaccine now named Corbevax. After working on the vaccine candidate for months, the Baylor College signed a contract with the Hyderabad based pharma company Biological E to facilitate its clinical trials, approval and subsequent production on mass scale.
When will clinical trials of Corbevax be over?
The pharma company has already secured the permission for the third phase of clinical trials of the vaccine and the government is expecting the trials to be over by July end. Following the completion of the trials, the mass production of the vaccine will ensue and since the government has already placed the advance order, it will be the natural claimant to receive the initial volume of vaccines produced by the company from August.