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Post at: Jul 17 2021

Biological E’s Corbevax: New Coronavirus Vaccine

Recent Context

Government of India has placed an advance order for 300 million doses of Corbevax, Covid-19 vaccine, from Hyderabad based company Biological Eon June 3, 2021.

About Corbevax

  • It is Covid-19 Vaccine being developed and currently (in June 2021) under phase-3 advance trial by Hyderabad based Biological E company (the trial is expected to be completed in July 2021).
  • It uses a “recombinant protein sub-unit” which means that it uses a specific part of Covid Virus – the spike protein on virus’s surface.
  • Spike protein, when injected alone without the body of virus, it does not causes harmful effect in humans but helps develop an immune response against the injected spike protein.
  • When real virus attacks the body of human, it will already have immune response for virus.

How Corbevax was made?

  • It is indigenously produced, but the initial research work was carried out by Baylor College of Medicine Texas, USA.
  • Baylor College shared its vaccine formula and production cell bank to Biological E in August 2020 for them to conduct trials.
  • Biological E has received support under ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.
  • Mission COVID Suraksha is the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine development Mission.
  • The support to Biological E is to the tune of 100 crore.

Corbevax Vs Other Vaccines

  • Corbevax uses “recombinant protein sub-unit” as vaccine, other vaccines use different technology.
  • Corbevax only inject part of spike protein in a different way.

Why Corbevax is getting push from Indian Government?

  • Corbevax uses cheap resources to develop the vaccine, therefore it can be mass produced easily.
  • Government is facing severe bottlenecks in getting adequate vaccine supply. US, UK & EU had made advance payments and risk investment into vaccines like Pfizer, AstraZenca etc. while India waited to place the order after its first two vaccine got approval.
  • Because of this, supplier of Pfizer & Moderna Vaccines are getting blocked for India as they have to fulfill previous orders first.

Way Forward for India

  • With 2nd wave of Covid-19 wrecking the Indian society and economy and with chances of a near 3rd wave, it is necessary that India achieve complete vaccination.
  • However, India has so far fully vaccinated only 3.4% of its population. This figure is 43.6% in USA, 44.2% UK and 11.2% in China.
  • Apart from policy constrained, not getting enough vaccine quickly is major reason for this lag.Therefore, Corbevax can play a major role in speeding up the vaccination process in India.

Kameshwar Shukla

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