After the recent Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for Corbevax to launch in the country, Texas doctor Peter Hotez said the affordable and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be helpful for India and neighbouring countries as a large part of the population remain unvaccinated.
The initial construct and production process of the vaccine antigen was developed at Texas Children's Hospital (TCH) Centre for Vaccine Development, led by co-directors Maria Elena Bottazzi and Hotez.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Hotez, who is also the dean at Baylor's National School of Tropical Medicine, said that "Given the urgency, Corbevax will be helpful not only for India but globally as most of the African continent, neighbouring countries around India remain largely unvaccinated..."
He further said they are in discussion with WHO to increase the availability of Corbevax widely available globally.
"We have started discussions with WHO to make this vaccine as widely available as possible, especially to people who live in poverty. It's easy to scale, has a great record of safety, simple refrigeration...It has an ideal profile," he said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"EUA of Corbevax in India for adults 18 and older will have a great pediatric profile because parents have been giving same technology (as in vaccine) to their kids for decades...We hope that (its) possibility as a booster will follow," he further added.Corbevax, the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Hyderabad-based vaccine major Biological-E in collaboration with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine, is also India’s first indigenously developed protein sub-unit vaccine against the virus.
"TCH does not plan to make money on this, it is a gift to the world. The vaccine uses a traditional recombinant protein yeast fermentation technology, similar to that used for the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine, which has been around for 40 years. It was authorized based on superiority studies to another well- established Covid vaccine. This can be made locally all over the world, and we have now technology transferred our Texas Children’s vaccine to producers in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Botswana,” Hotez had said.
TCH said the vaccine has been through phase three clinical trials with more than 3,000 subjects and was found to be safe and well-tolerated. The trials suggested a better immune response to the Ancestral-Wuhan strain of the virus as well as the delta variant compared to Covishield, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca. None of the subjects showed severe adverse reactions to the vaccine; and adverse effects in the study were half of those from Covishield.
Meanwhile, Biological E. has said that it plans to complete production at a rate of 75 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax per month, anticipating over 100 million doses per month from February 2022, which will enable the city-based company to deliver 300 million doses as promised to the Centre. It further added that the company plans to deliver more than one billion additional doses globally.