First batches of 50mn Corbevax doses to reach by next weekend
Corbevax, manufactured by Biological E after a no-strings-attached tech transfer from its developers Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine, was recommended for use in the 12-18 age group by an expert panel advising India’s drug regulator on Monday.
The first batches of 50 million Corbevax doses ordered by the Indian government will start arriving from next weekend, people familiar with the development said on Thursday, adding that these doses will likely be kept aside for the under-18 age group.
Corbevax, manufactured by Biological E after a no-strings-attached tech transfer from its developers Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine, was recommended for use in the 12-18 age group by an expert panel advising India’s drug regulator on Monday. A final approval from the Drugs Controller General of India is awaited, and will pave the way for what will be the second vaccine that can be given to children.
“The movement plan will be shared very soon, and the supplies will start in batches thereafter. This vaccine will most likely be used to vaccinate children,” said an official from the central government aware of the matter, asking not to be named.
On December 28, 2021, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted an emergency use approval to the vaccine for use in adults. The vaccine is a an RBD protein sub-unit dose, made using a platform that is used for many commonly used inoculations, including those given to children after birth.
The vaccine is administered in two doses as an intramuscular injection 28 days apart. The Union government paid Biological E ₹1,500 crore as an advance payment to reserve 300 million doses last year. The per dose cost India will pay has been set at ₹145, excluding taxes.
According to people familiar with the matter, Kasauli based Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL), which does quality testing before every market release, has cleared nearly 60 million doses of the vaccine.
The government’s expert panel on immunisation— National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) -- is deliberating on expanding the Covid-19 vaccination coverage to children between 12 and 15 years, the person quoted above added.
Currently, India has allowed Covid-19 vaccination in adolescents between 15 and 18 years of age. From January 3, when they began to be covered, at least 70% of the estimated eligible adolescents have received their first doses. Only Covaxin is available for use in the under-18 age group.
“The data is being reviewed by the expert panel, and they are going to take a decision on it soon. We now have more than one vaccine available for children; therefore supplies should not be an issue in coming months. The final call, however, will be of experts,” said the official cited above.
Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D is a third vaccine approved for use in ages 12 and above but the dose has not yet been available for administration and has not been included in the government-controlled campaign.
Corbevax is also being tested as a single booster dose for those who have been fully vaccinated with either Covishield or Covaxin, the two mainstay doses of India’s Covid immunisation programme.
“That matter of allowing booster doses is also being examined the expert panel, and a decision is also expected in that regard,” added the official
Corbevax’s developers have said the vaccine has shown similar efficacy levels as other approved Covid-19 doses using a method of assessment known as correlate of protection. The company, however, is yet to disclose clinical trial data.