EXPLAINED: What Is Covovax, Which Could Be Another Shot In The Arm For India's Vaccine Race


It is the primary protein subunit vaccine that’s reportedly prepared for roll-out, pending approvals. The US-based Novavax, the maker of Covovax, because the vaccine has been named in India, has already sought an emergency use nod for the vaccine within the nation in collaboration with the Serum Institute. There at the moment are 5 vaccines which were cleared to be used in India and the Novavax shot will signify an additional enhance because the nation appears to vaccinate its complete grownup inhabitants by the tip of 2021. Here’s all you should know.

Who Is Making Covovax? How Is India Involved?

Located in Maryland, US, the biotech firm Novavax describes its work as “growing next-generation vaccines for severe infectious ailments”. When the pandemic broke, the company went about configuring its nanoparticle-based approach for making vaccines to come up with a shot against the novel coronavirus, the pathogen that causes Covid-19.

In August last year, when its vaccine candidate was in mid-stage trials, the company had announced that it would be partnering the Pune-based Serum Institute of Indian to produce a minimum of one billion doses of its vaccine for low- and middle-income countries and India. A year later, in August 2021, it said it had sought approval for emergency use of its vaccine from authorities in India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The company also said that it would also apply for emergency us listing from the World Health Organisation within the month.

However, reports in the US said that the company is looking at delayed timelines for seeking regulatory approval in that country even as America is said to be facing a glut of Covid-19 vaccines.

What Kind Of Vaccine Is The Novovax Shot?

The Novavax candidate, which is also known as NVX-CoV2373, is a “recombinant nanoparticle” vaccine with the corporate saying it’s the “first protein-based choice” that has sought a green light for launch from any regulatory agency.

Vaccines that are being built against Covid-19 so far are founded on one of four basic platforms. All of them primarily target the novel coronavirus’s spike protein, which it uses to infect human cells, to train the immune system to ward off infection. So, there are the viral vector vaccines — like Covishield and Sputnik V — which use a separate virus to carry an inactivated spike protein into human cells, which triggers an immune response as a result.

Then there are nucleic acid, or genetic, vaccines that insert genetic information from the novel coronavirus to prompt the body to produce the spike protein which the immune system in turn targets by producing antibodies. The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA shots and a DNA vaccine, ZyCoV-D, being created by Zydus Cadila in India belong to this category.

Inactivated virus vaccines look to inject a weakened form of the novel coronavirus into the body to elicit an immune response. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is an example of this variety of vaccines.

Protein subunit vaccines, as the name suggests, contain fragments of the novel coronavirus’s spike protein, but none of its genetic material. The spike protein can nudge the immune system into mounting a response against the virus. To produce its Covid-19 vaccine, Novavax scientists first isolated the spike gene and then used another virus to carry the gene into moth cells, where it went ahead and formed the spikes of the kind that stud the novel coronavirus’s surface. These spike were then harvested and arranged as nanoparticles that are injected into the arm muscle.

Since they contain no live components of the virus, they are considered to be very safe and are also relatively easy to produce. However, since they only contain the protein and no genetic information of the target virus, the immune response can be weaker than with other types of vaccines. To amplify the immune response, therefore, these vaccines may require the use of adjuvants, which is a sort of booster given along with the vaccine to enhance the immune response.

How Effective Is It Against The Likes Of Delta Variant?

Novavax has announced promising results in its clinical trials, reporting an overall efficacy rate of 89.7 per cent. The company said in August this year that its vaccine has been “engineered from the genetic sequence of the first strain of Sars-CoV-2″ and has a excessive 96.4 per cent efficacy in opposition to it. It additionally had an efficacy fee of 86.3 per cent in opposition to Alpha, one of many earlier variants of the illness, nevertheless it was solely 49 per cent efficient in opposition to the Beta variant that was first reported in South Africa and is reportedly engaged on a separate model for it.

With the Delta variant, nonetheless, rising as the important thing fear greater than a yr into the pandemic, the corporate mentioned in August 2021 {that a} third, booster dose of its vaccine given six months after the preliminary two-dose routine, resulted in a 4.6-fold enhance within the antibody rely whereas the response in opposition to the Delta variant was greater than six-times greater. The booster, too, must be given with the corporate’s adjuvant, known as Matrix-M.

The dosage for the Novavax candidate is 2 0.5 ml pictures given 21 days aside.

What Is The Production Timeline?

In June this yr, the Serum Institute mentioned it had begun manufacturing of the primary batch of the vaccine after medical trials have been launched in India in March. It has spoken about launching the vaccine in India by October whilst Novavax has mentioned that the partnership with the Serum Institute has contracts to offer greater than 1.1 billion doses to the COVAX Facility, which is working to make sure equitable vaccine entry for poorer international locations.

An benefit with the Novovax vaccine is that it may be 2-8 levels Celsius in refigerators, which suggests it might use the logistical infrastructure accessible in India for vaccine supply.

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