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Nonprofit ‘People’s COVID Vaccine’ Begins to Target Global Inequalities

While vaccine inequality between high-income and low-income countries continues to persist, a team of scientists from Texas have developed what they hope will be “the global COVID vaccine,” a low-cost, non-profit vaccine designed to help levels medium to low. income countries are battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Known as Corbevax, this vaccine was developed by Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In the last week of 2021, the vaccine received emergency approval from the Indian government and the Department of Health and Family Welfare has already pre-ordered 300 million doses, which means everything is ready to start.

“This announcement is an important first step in immunizing the world and stopping the pandemic. Our vaccine technology offers a way to address an ongoing humanitarian crisis, namely the vulnerability of low- and middle-income countries to the delta variant ”, Dr Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine of Baylor and Co. director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said in a declaration.

“Widespread and worldwide vaccination with our… vaccine would also prevent the emergence of new variants. We have already missed this opportunity for the alpha and delta variants. Now is our chance to prevent a new global wave of what may follow, ”Hotez added.

This “second generation” vaccine is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine. It works by containing a version of the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a key part of a virus that allows it to dock with receptors in the body to access our cells. When this harmless protein is introduced into the body, the immune system learns to recognize it quickly and produces antibodies to fight it, preparing it for potential future infection. Protein is produced by the microbial fermentation of yeast in a way that is relatively easy to scale cheaper.

While this type of vaccine has been used successfully for about four decades, including vaccination against hepatitis B, this is a first for COVID vaccines. To further improve access to the vaccine, the development team also transferred production to the Indian company Biological E. Limited (BioE) with an “unconditional” open license. They estimate they have the capacity to produce about 1.2 billion doses per year, priced at 250 yen (about $ 3) per dose, making them the the most affordable of vaccines in the Indian market.

The technology behind Corbevax has been around for a while, which means there is a good understanding of how it works and how it is secure. However, the safety and efficacy of the new vaccine have of course been proven by two phase III clinical trials involving 3,000 people. According to the Texas Children’s Hospital, the trials found that Corbevax was more than 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infections of the original “ancestral-Wuhan strain” and more than 80 percent in preventing symptomatic infections of the variant. Delta. None of the participants reported serious adverse events either.

“Protein-based vaccines have been widely used to prevent many other diseases, have a proven track record of safety, and use economies of scale to achieve low-cost scalability across the world,” added Dr Maria Elena Bottazzi, professor and associate dean of the National School. of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

With all of this in place, Corbevax must launch his mammoth challenge to help alleviate vaccine inequality and start building immunity in the parts of the world that need it most.