India rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 this year. ‘World largest vaccination programme”, as touted by the Union Government, took off with much excitement and hope that India will be able to vaccinate its 1.3 billion population much faster than the rest of the world. However, according to the government data, India has been able to vaccinate only 4 per cent of its population so far with a little over 20 per cent receiving at least the first dose of vaccine till now. The ferocious second wave of the pandemic further slowed the vaccination pace. Even though the country remains world’s largest vaccine maker, its vaccination pace could not be sustained due to a crippling shortage of doses and poor vaccination policy.
Despite all the challenges, India’s ambitious target of vaccinating all of its population above the age of 18 by December has got a much-need boost as the country will be adding two new vaccines to its vaccine arsenal.
Hyderabad-based company Biological E’s Corbevax and Novavax’s Coronavirus vaccine which is being produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India and known as Covavax in India, will be available in India (SII) in the coming few months. India is already administrating two homegrown vaccine – Covishield and Covaxin – and Russia’s Sputnik V to its population.
The US-based biotechnology firm Novavax has made the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine, which will be manufactured by SII under the brand name Covavax. Covavax is developed as a protein-based vaccine and is still waiting for emergency use authorisation from the regulators.
Novavax had signed a deal with the SII to produce 2 billion doses last year in September. In an interview with CNBC TV, SII CEO Adhar Poonawalla said vaccine can be available in India by September only if it receives the required regulatory nod by the Centre. He also mentioned that although the clinical trials of the vaccine will conclude by November but as per the latest guidelines by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) it can obtain the license before its completion on basis of global data of the trials.
As per the US trial data, the Covavax efficacy rate is higher than Covishield and Covaxin and has an almost similar efficacy rate with Sputnik V.
In a statement on June 14, Novavax said that its vaccine has shown 90.6 per cent overall efficiency in phase 3 clinical trials. In a 29,960-person trial in the US and Mexico, the vaccine was also found to provides 100 per cent protection against moderate and severe disease and 91 per cent efficacy in high-risk populations.
This is an indigenously produced vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E in collaboration with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine. Corbevax is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine. It contains the Coronavirus' spike protein, which if injected invokes an immune response
After showing a positive response in the first two trials, the vaccine is in the key third phase of clinical trials, which will end in July.
On Wednesday, NK Arora, chairperson of the Centre's Covid Working Group told NDTV that Biological E's made-in-India vaccine is expected to have 90 per cent effectiveness against Covid and will likely be a gamechanger in the fight against the pandemic.
The government has already placed an order for 30 crores of Corbevax vaccine with an advance payment of Rs 1500 crore, making it the first vaccine to be booked by the Indian government that has not received emergency approval.
Corbevax is also slated to be the cheapest vaccine in India as it is made using a low-cost platform. According to the reports, it will cost around Rs 250 for a dose.