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Corbevax: India's First Protein Sub-Unit Covid Vaccine Recommended for Emergency Use in 5-12 Year Olds

Corbevax vaccine, which is India’s indigenously developed Receptor Binding Domain or (RBD) Protein sub-unit vaccine against Covid-19, uses similar technology that has been used for decades to make hepatitis B vaccines. (Photo: PTI/File)

Corbevax vaccine, which is India’s indigenously developed Receptor Binding Domain or (RBD) Protein sub-unit vaccine against Covid-19, uses similar technology that has been used for decades to make hepatitis B vaccines. (Photo: PTI/File)

Labelled a “recombinant protein subunit vaccine", Corbevax stands on the same platform as the hepatitis shot, meaning it’s a tried and tested vaccine, unlike the likes of mRNA and non-replicating viral vector vaccines

As India battles a fresh surge in coronavirus cases, the Subject Expect Committee (SEC) of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Thursday recommended emergency use of Biological E.’s Corbevax in children in the age group of 5-12 years. The recommendations have been sent to the drug controller general of India by the SEC. A nod by the drug controller would be awaited before the Health Ministry goes ahead with guidelines for younger children. The vaccine is, at present, being used for children in the age group of 12-14 years.

Corbevax, developed by the Hyderabad-based Biological E. Ltd in collaboration with the Texas Children’s Hospital Centre for Vaccine Development and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, is “India’s first indigenously developed protein subunit vaccine against Covid-19″.

Here is all you need to know about the vaccine:

  1. The Centre is currently administering the Corbevax vaccine to the 12 to 14 age group. It received the nod for rollout in the country in end-December 2021.
  2. In February this year, Corbevax received emergency use authorisation (EUA) from India’s drug regulator for the 12 to 18-year age group.
  3. Labelled a “recombinant protein subunit vaccine”, Corbevax stands on the same platform as the hepatitis shot, meaning it’s a tried and tested vaccine, unlike the likes of mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) and non-replicating viral vector (Covishield, Sputnik V) vaccines, which were rolled out for public use for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic as vaccine development was pursued at an unprecedented scale to address the global crisis.
  4. In Phase-III human trials, Corbevax “demonstrated superior immune response in comparison with Covishield… against the ancestral-Wuhan strain and the globally dominant Delta variant”, Biological E said.
  5. The vaccine had an effectiveness of over 90 per cent against the original Wuhan strain of the novel coronavirus and was more than 80 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic infections with the Delta variant. Reports said that its effectiveness is being assessed against the Omicron variant.
  6. Corbevax uses a recombinant protein platform that is currently not being used by any other vaccine that is being distributed in the country. Like other vaccines, Corbevax targets the spike protein on the virus particle’s surface. However, instead of instructing cells to replicate them, the vaccine injects a small volume of cloned spike proteins grown in a lab.
  7. The immune system recognises these proteins as a threat and develops a response accordingly, ultimately, reducing the ability of the live virus to infect cells and cause serious disease.
  8. Biological E said that “the vaccine will be effective both in scale and affordability, providing sustainable access to low-and middle-income countries” with reports saying that it could be the cheapest vaccine available in India with its two shots expected to be cumulatively priced at below Rs 400. Covishield costs about Rs 300-Rs 400 for a single dose while the Russian Sputik V costs around Rs 1,000. Covaxin costs about Rs 1,400 for its two doses.

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