Dec 28, 2021 - Health

India authorizes two COVID vaccines

A blue glove holds a vial of the Corbevax vaccine.

The Corbevax vaccine. Photo: Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development

Drug regulators in India have authorized two COVID-19 vaccines, Corbevax and Covovax, for emergency use.

Why it matters: The Omicron strain of the coronavirus vaccine has led to global records of daily cases. These new vaccines could serve as potential lifelines for low- and middle-income countries that have been left behind in global vaccination, depending on how effective the vaccines are.

Details: Indian-based Biological E will make Corbevax, and the Serum Institute of India will make Covovax.

  • Corbevax, developed by researchers at Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, uses "recombinant protein" vaccine technology that is used to make older vaccines.
  • Biological E, which has already been producing Corbevax at risk, said it can make 100 million doses per month by February.
  • Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher who helped create Corbevax, previously told Axios that all of Corbevax's technology is being transferred to other countries for free, which will make it one of the cheapest vaccines to produce at roughly $1.50 per dose.
  • Covovax is the Indian version of a vaccine made by Novavax, which has been mired in production and vaccine quality problems, according to Politico.

Between the lines: The data on Corbevax is more unclear than the data on Covovax.

  • Late-stage clinical trial results for Corbevax have not been published yet, but press releases say it was more than 80% effective in preventing symptomatic infections against the Delta variant. No details have been disclosed about Corbevax's effectiveness against the Omicron variant, or how effective it is at preventing severe disease and death.
  • Two large clinical trials studying the Novavax vaccine showed 90% effectiveness against mild, moderate or severe COVID-19. The World Health Organization has recommended use of this vaccine, but U.S. regulators have not yet authorized it.
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