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Vacuna contra la COVID-19
An off-patent vaccine may be the key in the battle against the coronavirus. Photo: Pixabay.

New COVID vaccine could be key to getting the rest of the world vaccinated

Corbevax is a new patent-free COVID vaccine that is beginning to open up thanks to its formula and the low cost to producing it.

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With the arrival of the third year of the pandemic and the worrying unequal progress of vaccination around the world, good news comes from the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

It's about the creation of Corbevax, a new COVID vaccine that, unlike its predecessors, has been launched with a free patent, which implies that it can be produced anywhere in the world and at low cost. It's an alternative that could balance the vaccine playing field for some of the world's poorest countries.

In addition to its ease of production, the new vaccine, with emergency use already approved in India at the end of last year, is part of the new group of vaccines that are being developed from proteins. There is also another option from the American company, Novavax.

vacuna contra la covid-19

Protein vaccines

These types of vaccines have a microscopic version and similar to the protein found in the spike of COVID-19. Since the immune system does not have to produce the protein itself, it is supplied in the vaccine, and the immune system reacts more quickly.

Thanks to their proprietary protein subunit technology, which has been used for decades to treat diseases such as Hepatitis B and whooping cough, the production of these vaccines is cheaper and also have the advantage of not requiring storage at temperatures as low as those required by other vaccines.

“Our low-cost recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine is being scaled/produced in India and Indonesia. Our goal is to vaccinate the world's low-income countries in the coming months,” highlighted Professor Peter Hotez, one of the creators of the vaccine.

In addition to Corvevax, alternatives from Novavax and China's Clover Biopharmaceuticals are currently awaiting mass approval, as well as those from the British-French company Sanofi-GlaxoSimithKline, the Canada's Medicago and the South Korea's sk bioscience.

A Honduran woman and her dream of vaccinating the poor countries of Central America

Behind this important development, fundamental in this battle against COVID-19, is a Honduran, Dr. María Elena Bottazzi, co-director of the Center for the Development of Vaccines of the Texas Children's Hospital. Together with Dr. Hotez, she designed the vaccine with the aim of freely sharing the patent with all.

In addition to its approval in India, the vaccine is about to begin production in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Botswana. All are countries like several in Central America, including Honduras, have few resources to face the pandemic. 

"It was a failure not to support technologies such as recombinant proteins, or conventional vaccines, because it is true, maybe we take longer to produce, but once we do it, we can produce billions of doses. While with mRNAs, they can be produced quickly but not on a sufficient scale," Bottazzi told BBC Mundo, referring to the fact that the governments of powerful countries gave priority to vaccines, such as those from Pfizer or Moderna, which, although effective, are more expensive.

Regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, according to a Phase III study of 3,000 volunteers, Corbevax was 90% effective in preventing disease caused by the original version of SARS-CoV-2, and 80% for the Delta variant.

Although these data have not yet been fully processed to be shared with the medical and scientific community, Bottazzi assures that even if these are delayed, there will be no surprises. Regarding the Omicron variant, they indicate that they are making progress in their studies and are waiting for the results to be validated.

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