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Is The Cheapest COVID-19 Vaccine Soon To Hit The Indian Market?

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Introduction

Corbevax is the latest in the line of COVID-19 vaccines that are soon to get approval under the Emergency Use Approval (EUA) policy in India. According to the most recent news, this vaccine from Biological E might turn out to be one of the cheapest options on the market, pending the vaccine passing stage 3 trials. 

What do we know so far?

As per hints from statements made by Mahima Datla (the Managing Director at Biological E), although the pricing is yet to be finalised it seems that the 2 doses of the Corbevax vaccine could be as little as Rs. 500 (Rs 250 per shot) or even as low as Rs 400.

As a comparison, the Covishield vaccine is at Rs 300 per dose for the government (Rs 600 for private hospitals) and the Covaxin shot is Rs 400 and Rs 1200 correspondingly. Topping out the list is the Russian Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine at Rs 995 which is being developed in India through Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. 

Is this vaccine effective and how does it work?

Although still going through stage 3 trials at the moment, Corbevax has shown hopeful results in stage 1 and 2 trials, prompting the government of India to put in an advance order for 300 million doses of this latest COVID-19 vaccine. The government of India has an aspirational goal of administering up to 2 billion vaccine doses to people by December and Corbevax could very well be part of that ambitious plan. 

Developed along with the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, Corbevax is classified as a recombinant protein subunit vaccine. Baylor’s National School of Tropical Medicine has been dealing with coronavirus vaccine research of SARS and MERS for over a decade, hence they have the techniques to produce a high-efficiency vaccine. This vaccine works by producing harmless copies of the COVID-19 Coronavirus spike protein by using yeast. The yeast is then removed and the spike protein is purified and put together with an adjuvant so that it can be administered to train the body’s immune system for the real virus. 

The spike protein is recognised by the immune system as an intruder and the body reacts and learns to recognise it. The protein itself is thought to have no harmful effect as there is no virus attached to it. In this way, when the real virus infects the person at a later stage, the body is ready to fight against it. 

Since many of these processes are similar to those used in preparing the Hepatitis B vaccine with traditional technology, the production costs for Corbevax are quite low. These production similarities are also why Biological E seems confident that they can achieve around 80 million doses a month by August. The company has already started manufacturing early batches of Corbevax at their own risk in anticipation of EUA. 

Current Scenario

India’s vaccine drive is currently hampered by a sheer lack of available vaccines for its massive population. Biological E’s Corbevax is exceptionally good news, as pending a successful stage 3 trial, it means India will have another source of COVID-19 vaccines to fight back against the pandemic. In the meantime, continue following the COVID protocol and try booking a vaccine slot for your loved ones and yourself. 

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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