why should Indians care about Corbevax?

Why Should You Care About Corbevax, the World’s First Patent-Free Vaccine?

Two researchers in Texas, Dr. Peter Hotez and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi have developed the first patent-free vaccine, Corbevax. This means that any company with the means to manufacture the vaccine will be able to do it without giving all their money to big pharma. Corbevax is ‘the world’s vaccine’, one that hopes to reach the remotest of places at affordable prices. 

The Indian government has already greenlit the manufacturing process for Corbevax. But if you’ve had your two doses of Covishield, why should you even care about this? Here’s why.

It’s India’s first protein subunit vaccine too

Fun fact: Hyderabad-based Biological E. Limited (BioE) worked in collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine to develop Corbevax. 

It’s easy to produce and store

Corbevax is a protein subunit vaccine. It uses a harmless spike of the protein in the original COVID-19 virus to prepare our immune systems. Protein subunit vaccines are easier to produce than mRNA vaccines like Covishield, Pfizer and Moderna. This is because Corbevax uses traditional techniques and technology to make the vaccine. It’s made using microbial fermentation and yeast. Scientists pull out genetic code for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and put it in yeast so it can multiply. The yeast keeps releasing the protein that makes the vaccine.

“It’s actually similar to the production of beer. Instead of releasing alcohol, in this case, the yeast is releasing the recombinant protein.”

Dr. Peter Hotez to Indian Express

We’ve been using the same tech for over 40 years across the world, popularly for the Hepatitis B vaccine. It’s cheaper to use and easier to scale up. And there’s no fear of wastage because health officials can easily store them in refrigerators

Tried and tested, on and for Indians

Two of the largest clinical trials for Corbevax took place in India on 3000+ people between the ages of 18 and 80 across 33 sites. The trials found the vaccine to be over 90% effective in preventing symptomatic infections from the original strain. It is also over 80% effective for preventing symptomatic Delta variant infections. 

A vegan vaccine, finally

One of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy in India has been not knowing what they contain. Corbevax solves these concerns by being absolutely vegan. 

“It is produced by microbial fermentation and yeast. That’s actually a vegan vaccine which people find kind of interesting and we do this because this is the lowest cost vaccine and yet it works as well as any of the mRNA or adenovirus vectored vaccines.”

Dr. Peter Hotez to NDTV India.

Corbevax is child-friendly

While the published reports are still awaited, BioE claims the vaccine is safe for kids below 18. 

“From the data we have seen so far, it’s extremely safe and well-tolerated for kids even up to 5 years of age. You give a Hepatitis-B vaccine, a classic subunit vaccine, to a newborn on day zero, within hours of birth, and this will act no differently.”

Mahima Datla, Managing Director, BioE to TOI

Could be way cheaper than others

Everybody loves savings! And apparently, Corbevax saves a lot of money on account of being patent-free and using existing old technology. India has ordered BioE to make 5 crore Corbevax doses. The projected price is close to Rs 250 since the government is acquiring it at Rs 145 plus taxes currently. All this is just speculation till we actually get it, but the Texas researchers believe Corbevax will be the cheapest vaccine to date. 

Could make a great booster dose

There’s no data to prove this yet. But one of the reasons why virologists are advocating for Corbevax is so that it gets approved as a booster dose. We don’t know how many times the virus will mutate, but it’s likely that COVID vaccine boosters will become a yearly affair like flu shots. And if that’s the case, every country will need cheaper booster vaccines like Corbevax.

Corbevax could bring vaccine equity

WHO and CDC have time and again pointed at mass vaccinations being our best shot at defeating the virus. The danger will lurk as long as vulnerable people remain unvaccinated. Corbevax might just be the saving grace that will bring us closer to our global goal of vaccine equity. It’s easier to produce, effective and may be lighter on our wallets. 

At Even, we advocate for vaccines big time. We’ve done our best to make Bangalore safer through our vaccination drives in the past. And we’ve tried to make the process as stress-free and seamless as possible. Now that vaccine slots are easily available and the load is much lighter, we’ve moved on to provide something even better. A promise of efficient, transparent and seamless healthcare, all rolled into one unique health cover. 

When you become a member, you get special COVID care where you get access to our healthcare services 24×7 at no extra cost. Now, we don’t know how much you’ll save on the latest vaccine, but we know that with us, you’ll only see bills worth Rs 0. Never pay a penny extra and never break a sweat over paperwork. It’s a promise. If your healthcare vision aligns with ours, please check our plans here.