Hyderabad-based company Biological E which manufactures the COVID-19 vaccine named Corbevax has received a bulk order of 300 million doses from the central government. Let us understand its working, composition and uniqueness in this article.
What is Corbevax?
It refers to a “recombinant protein sub-unit” vaccine, which implies it is made up of a particular part of SARS-CoV-2. It banks on the spike protein on the surface of the virus. It is a two-dose vaccine. It is equivalent to the same position as the hepatitis vaccine, and it is tried and tested. At the same time, the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are the first of their kind to have been out for administration against any pathogen as they inject only the genetic code from the pathogen to develop an immune response in the human body.
What is the working of Corbevax?
It is administered by this spike protein from the virus into the body to develop an immune response. If one frets about the safety of vaccines, then there should be a reminder that it uses an actual portion of the virus that only uses the spike protein while not the entire parts of the virus. Experts suggest that “because these fragments are incapable of causing disease, subunit vaccines are considered very safe”. Protein subunit vaccines are already being undertaken for hepatitis B and pertussis. As subunit vaccines use only a part of the virus, it could have an outcome of weaker immune response in the body. It could need “adjuvants (agents that stimulate the immune system and formed by the US-based Dynavax) and booster doses” to the shot.
Is it easy to make vaccines like Corbevax?
The vaccine alliance named Gavi states that these kinds of vaccines are “relatively cheap and easy to produce, and more stable than those containing whole viruses or bacteria”. On the formation of the hepatitis B vaccine, it believes that after the genetic code for the protein subunit is separated, it is inoculated into yeast cells, which permit it to become huge in large quantities simply. “The yeast is grown in large fermentation tanks, and then split open, allowing the antigen to be harvested. This purified protein is then added to other vaccine components, such as preservatives to keep it stable, and adjuvants to boost the immune response,” it added.
Corbevax’s clinical trials update
The approval has been given for Phase 3 clinical trials in the country, followed by the reflection of appropriate outcomes in phases I and 2. The central government will yield Rs 1,500 crore for its consignment of 30 crore doses. It could become the cheapest vaccine amongst currently available in use, i.e. Covishield and Covaxin. Two doses of it could be priced below Rs 400 vis-a-vis Covishield ranges between Rs 300 and Rs 400. The third vaccine (for use) in India called Sputnik V from Russia costs Rs 1,000.
Post completion of phase 3 trials of Corbevax, its production will have to conform to the Centre’s delivery target, which will go through between August and December this year.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “The Department of Biotechnology has not only provided financial assistance in terms of grant-in-aid of over Rs 100 crore but has also partnered with Biological-E to conduct all animal challenge and assay studies through its Translational Health Science Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad.”