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Corbevax: What Do We Know About Biological E's New COVID-19 Vaccine?

The year begins on a hopeful note, unlike the last one, with a number of vaccines made available against COVID-19. Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has, in December last year, granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to yet another vaccine, CORBEVAX, making it the eighth vaccine to have EUA in the country. How effective is CORBEVAX against COVID-19 and when will the vaccine be available in India? Know everything you need to know about CORBEVAX.

Caption: Peter Hotez and Maria Bottezi, the developers of Corbevax.

Image credits: Livemint

What is CORBEVAX vaccine?

Dubbed "The World's COVID-19 Vaccine", CORBEVAX was developed by Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine-the production is licenced to Hyderabad-based vaccine and pharmaceutical company Biological E. Limited.

Dr. Peter Hotez, Professor and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and Co-Director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, Professor and Associate are the brains behind CORBEVAX [1].

"Our decade-long studies advancing coronavirus vaccine prototypes has led to the creation of this vaccine, which will fill the access gap created by the more expensive, newer vaccine technologies and that today are still not able to be quickly scaled for global production." said Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi.

"Our vaccine technology offers a path to address an unfolding humanitarian crisis, namely the vulnerability the low- and middle-income countries face against the delta variant," said Dr. Peter Hotez.

How CORBEVAX vaccine works

CORBEVAX is India's first indigenously developed protein sub-unit COVID-19 Vaccine.

A protein subunit vaccine is developed by including only components or antigens of the disease causing virus that best stimulate a person's immune system when attacked by the same virus. Protein subunit COVID vaccines are safe as specific isolated proteins which boot immune response are not capable of causing the disease.

CORBEVAX is developed from the spike protein on the virus's body, which the virus uses to latch on and enter human cells. When injected CORBEVAX helps the body build the immune response against the virus [2].

Image credit: Freepik

Efficacy of CORBEVAX vaccine

After completing two Phase 3 clinical trials involving more than 3000 subjects between the ages of 18 and 80 at 33 study sites across India, CORBEVAX "was found to be safe, well tolerated and immunogenic", according to a report published by Biological E. Limited [3].

CORBEVAX demonstrated superior immune response in comparison with the Covishield vaccine when assessed for Neutralising Antibody (nAb) Geometric Mean Titers (GMT) against the Ancestral-Wuhan strain and the globally dominant Delta variant. CORBEVAX vaccination also generated a significant Th1 skewed cellular immune response, the report states.

CORBEVAX nAb GMT against the Delta strain indicates a vaccine effectiveness of >80 percent for the prevention of symptomatic infections based on published studies.

While none of the subjects who took CORBEVAXTM or COVISHIELD had serious adverse events, CORBEVAX had 50 percent fewer adverse events than COVISHIELD, according to the report.

When will CORBEVAX be available in India?

Biological E. Limited plans to complete production at a rate of 75 Million doses per month, anticipating 100+ million doses per month from February 2022. These capacities will enable the Hyderabad-based company to deliver 300 Million doses as promised to the Government of India. Soon, the company plans to deliver more than one billion additional doses globally. An official statement published by Biological E. Limited claims [4]