The government has placed an advance order for 300 million doses of a new COVID vaccine, Corbevax, from Hyderabad-based company Biological E. At Rs 500 for both doses, Corbevax, is set to be the cheapest vaccine in India. The clinical phase III trials of Corbevax are underway and are yet to get emergency use approval.
Corbevax is said to be a “recombinant protein sub-unit” vaccine, which means it is made up of a specific part of SARS-CoV-2 — the spike protein on the virus’s surface. The spike protein allows the virus to enter the cells in the body so that it can replicate and cause disease. However, when this protein alone is given to the body, it is not expected to be harmful as the rest of the virus is absent.
The body is expected to develop an immune response against the injected spike protein. Therefore, when the real virus attempts to infect the body, it will already have an immune response ready that will make it unlikely for the person to fall severely ill.
Media reports said the vaccine has shown promising results in phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. The vaccine is likely to be available in the next few months.
Oxford-SII’s Covishield costs Rs 600 for two doses for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin doses are Rs 800 and Rs 2,400. On the other hand, Russian vaccine Sputnik V is Rs 995 per shot.
In April, the Hyderabad company had got the nod from the Central Drugs and Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) to conduct phase 3 clinical trials on its Covid vaccine candidate, which it is developing in association with Baylor College of Medicine, US, and is modeled after the Hepatitis E vaccine.
Apart from this, Biological E Ltd has also partnered with Canada-based Providence Therapeutics Holdings Inc, to manufacture an mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic acid) vaccine PTX-COVID19-B in India. Biological E will handle all clinical development and regulatory activities for the mRNA vaccine in India and other jurisdictions licensed by it.
It targets one billion dose production capacity in 2022. “Providence will provide the necessary technology transfer for Biological E to manufacture mRNA vaccines in India, with a minimum production capacity of 600 million doses in 2022 and a target capacity of 1 billion doses”, a company statement read.