How Is Biological E’s Corbevax (Covid Vaccine) Different?
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India has placed an advance order to block 300 million doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine, Corbevax, from Hyderabad-based company Biological E. What is this vaccine, and why is it important for India?

~ How Corbevax works

Corbevax is 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.

~ How Corbevax was made

“We knew all the techniques required to produce a recombinant protein (vaccine) for coronaviruses at high levels of efficiency and integrity,” said Dr Peter Hotez, Professor and Dean at the School.

When the genetic sequence for SARS-CoV-2 was made available in February 2020, researchers pulled out the sequence for the gene for the spike protein, and worked on cloning and engineering it. The gene was then put into yeast, so that it could manufacture and release copies of the protein,” Dr Hotez said.

After this, the protein was purified to remove any remnants of the yeast “to make it pristine”. Then, the vaccine was formulated using an adjuvant to better stimulate the immune response.

~ How Corbevax is different

Inactivated vaccines, which include killed particles of the whole SARS-CoV-2 virus, attempt to target the entire structure of the virus. On the other hand, Corbevax, like the mRNA and viral vector Covid-19 vaccines, targets only the spike protein, but in a different way.

Viral vector and mRNA and vaccines use a code to induce our cells to make the spike proteins against which the body have to build immunity. “In this case (Corbevax), we’re actually giving the protein,” said Dr Hotez. Like most other Covid-19 vaccines, Corbevax is administered in two doses. However, as it is made using a low-cost platform, it is also expected to be among the cheapest available in the country.

~ Why Corbevax matters

This is the first time the Indian government has placed an order for a vaccine that has not received emergency use authorisation, paying Rs 1,500 crore in advance to block an order that could vaccinate 15 crore Indian citizens. The Centre has provided major pre-clinical and clinical trial support towards the vaccine’s development, including a grant-in-aid of Rs 100 crore from the Department of Biotechnology.

India is expecting to secure up to two billion doses of Covid vaccines by December this year. India waited until after its first two vaccines were approved before placing limited orders. The government eased regulatory requirements for foreign vaccines, but it did not receive a speedy response from Pfizer and Moderna.

Source:
https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/corbevax-vaccine-biological-e-india-7344928/
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