Corbevax: How the vaccine by Biological E is different from others and why government is backing its production

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Updated: June 07, 2021 2:22 PM

The government has placed an order of 300 million doses of the vaccine produced by Hyderabad -based Biological E.

Corbevax, Biological e, everything about Corbevax, spike proteon vaccine, SARS-CoV-2, Covid vaccine, government orders for CorbevaxEverything about Biological E Corbevax vaccine (Representative Image, IE)

Corbevax has secured permission for the third phase clinical trials of the vaccine and the government is expecting the trials to be over by July. The government has also placed an order of 300 million doses of the vaccine produced by Hyderabad -based Biological E. Here’s how Corbevax is different that existing Covid-19 vaccines in the market.

How Corbevax readies the immune system of the body

Corbevax unlike other vaccines is a “recombinant protein sub-unit”. The protein unit used here is SARS-CoV-2- that spike protein coronavirus surface that binds with cells and multiples to cause Covid-19. When the spike protein binds with the cell the virus gets unrestricted entry to the body, but the vaccine contains only the protein unit without the virus and hence cannot cause any harm to the body.

Soon the body reacts to the foreign spike protein and starts preparing an immune response. Hence when the real Covid-19 virus affects the body the immune response that can counter the effect of the spike protein comes to function making the person less vulnerable to the infection.

This process of vaccine development was earlier explored and utilized for Hepatitis B vaccines but it is the first time that is being explored for the Covid-19 vaccine. Another vaccine manufacturer Novavax has also developed a protein-based vaccine but awaits go-ahead for emergency use authorization from drug regulators.

How Corbevax was developed, what are the roots of its genesis

Research for Corbevax was started by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical medicine. There were also working on recombinant protein vaccines for others forms of coronavirus like SARS and MERS for a decade now.

Researchers started studying, cloning, engineering the sequence of the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein since February 2020. The gene was then made to multiply in yeast. The protein was next removed of all remnants if the yeast and a vaccine is formulated using an adjuvant to ready the immune system.
What is more promising about this vaccine is the raw materials are cheap and easy to find.

Baylor College shared its vaccine formula and production cell bank to Biological E in August last year for them to conduct trials. Soon it received approval for phase 3 trials that are expected to be complete by July. Once the trials are done and have received approval from DGC, productions will start for India and the world.

How Corbevax is different from other vaccines

So far, all the vaccines available in the market in India and abroad are viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca/Covishield, Johnson & Johnson, and Sputnik), mRNA based vaccine (Moderna and Pfizer), annd inactivated vaccines (Covaxin, Sinopharm’s SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine, and Sinovac-CoronaVac)

While the inactivated vaccines attempt to target the entire structure of the virus, Viral vector and mRNA-based vaccines use a code to make cells male spike proteins against the body that has built immunity. As for Corbevax, the protein is injected into the vaccine receiver’s body.

Like other vaccines, even Corbevax required two doses for maximum effectiveness but it can be manufactured in a low-cost platform and is expected to the cheapest available drug in the country.

Why Corbevax is receiving government push  already

Biological E has already received a Rs 1500 crore advance to pre-book vaccines enough to vaccinate 15 crore Indians The manufacturer’s also have received Rs 100 crore aid from the Centre to conduct pre-clinical and post-clinical trials.

Center is aggressively trying to increase vaccine productions and vaccinate most of the Indian population as it has faced difficulty in enhancing production with Covishield and Covaaxin. Moreover, with developed nations like the US, UK, EU already making advance purchase agreements with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, India is not receiving a speedy response from these two foreign vaccine manufacturers even when the regulatory requirements were relaxed. Given Corbevax’s low production cost and easier access to materials, the Centre entrusts the manufacturer with making a sizeable portion of their expected supply.

About Biological E, Corbevax manufacturer

Founded by Dr. V K Raju in 1953, Biological E pioneered the production of heparin in India. The first vaccine is manufactured on a large scale was the DPT vaccine. Today the company claims to be the “largest” tetanus vaccine producer in the world and has built a supply chain with 100 countries. In the last 10 years, it has supplied more than two billion doses.

The company is under the management of Mahima Datla since 2013. It has received WHO prequalification for vaccines fighting diseases like DTwP, Japanese encephalitis, Td as well as measles and rubella vaccines and has also started vaccine manufacturing in the US.

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