GADGETS

Texas scientists co-design new, cheap Covid-19 vaccine


Travelers pass a sign offering free Covid-19 vaccines and a booster shot at a pop-up clinic in the International Arrivals Area at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California on December 22, 2021.

Travelers pass a sign offering free Covid-19 vaccines and a booster shot at a pop-up clinic in the International Arrivals Area at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California on December 22, 2021.
picture: Frederick J. Brown/AFP (Getty Images)

Although some really important medical advances This year, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, either in the United States or even in poor countries with low vaccination rates. But there is hope on the near horizon. Cheap, easy-to-stock, and effective covid-19 vaccines are due to be mass-produced and distributed worldwide soon. That includes a particularly promising vaccine developed by Texas researchers and just licensed in India this week.

On Tuesday, Indian health regulators Certainly An emergency use authorization for Corbevax vaccine, created by scientists from Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine. The vaccine was further developed and tested in partnership with the Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E, which will handle local production of the vaccine. Clinical trials have shown Corbevax to be safe and it is estimated that it is more than 90% effective against the original form of the coronavirus, as well as more than 80% effective against the delta variant.

Researchers Invoices Who made them as “the world’s vaccine for the Corona virus.” Its core technology, which uses a piece of coronavirus protein extracted from yeast cells, has long been used in vaccines, most notably the hepatitis B vaccine. This design means that it can be scaled up easily and inexpensively, even in countries with limited resources. Importantly, it can be stored using standard refrigeration, which should allow for more widespread transport and use of mRNA vaccines that require special refrigeration.

Moreover, vaccine technology has been advanced Without patents, the researchers plan to widely share their blueprints and/or co-develop the vaccine with any manufacturer and willing countries without any additional financial gain. As a result, a single mass-produced dose is estimated To run about $1.50. In contrast, Pfizer and Moderna recently signed deals It is said to charge around $25 per serving in Europe.

Biological E is said to have already produced 150 million doses of Corbevax and should be able to produce 100 million doses per month. The team has also reportedly shared its technology with manufacturers in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Botswana.

“Our vaccine development program brings together the heart and passion of scientists from diverse and diverse backgrounds. We are honored to be able to offer all of our experience and bring this vaccine to so many in India and around the world,” Maria Elena Botazi, one of the lead vaccine developers and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development , he told Gizmodo.

There have been ongoing efforts to provide cheap to low- and middle-income countries vaccines, most notably the WHO-led COVAX programme. But COVAX has He fell Far short of expectations, having acquired and distributed less than half the two billion doses it planned to procure by the end of 2021. Richer countries have also donated doses, and the United States appears to have pledged earlier this year that it is supporting the waiver of patents on existing vaccines such as those that Developed by Pfizer and Moderna – it would potentially be an important step in expanding distribution of these newer, more expensive and more complex vaccines to produce. but talking to negotiate These exemptions have stopped completely, and the United States has stopped He reportedly did little to actually push them. Currently, only 58% of the world’s population has received At least one vaccine dose, while less than half full vaccinations – a disparity worse in many poor countries.

The Baylor vaccine itself was stifled by a lack of resources early on, as the team failed to secure funding through last year’s Operation Warp Speed ​​initiative in the United States to speed up vaccine development. They were able to garner enough funding eventually, largely through Charity, but it undoubtedly slowed their schedule. According to Peter Hotez, co-developer and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, the lack of focus on making a vaccine for everyone has had dire consequences — which he hopes his team’s vaccine will now begin to treat. .

“It’s very exciting to be able to make a difference in vaccinating the world,” Hotez told Gizmodo. In addition to the obvious human impulse, this is the only way to prevent the emergence of future variables. Had we had the funds to do this sooner, South Africa might have been vaccinated and Omicron would not have appeared at all.”

Of course there are still important questions about Cobrevax to be answered. Notably, it is not yet known how effective it is against the Omicron variant, which is beginning to overtake Delta as the dominant version of the virus. Omicron is worrisome because its many mutations allow it to more easily infect people with some previous immunity created through vaccination or infection (on the plus side, this immunity still appears to be dampened). The team plans to have data on Omicron soon, however, there is existing data that suggests Cobrevax may be better at providing lasting protection in general than some other vaccines. Cobrevax may also be used as a booster for other vaccines, and other data has shown that the booster shots restore some protection against Omicron infection.

Corbevax is not the only vaccine that could become a boon to poor countries. Only this week, Mexico had become The most recent person who allowed the three-dose vaccine that Cuba invented, called Abdallah. Abdullah and another Cuban vaccine, Soberna 02, were similarly developed using old and cheap vaccine technology, and clinical trials have shown that the vaccines were more than 90% effective against disease. After the peak of the epidemic in the summer, cases of COVID-19 occurred in Cuba I retreated The vaccination rate has increased to more than 90% with at least one dose. Country I’m still waiting The World Health Organization has to decide whether to approve covid-19 vaccines, which are likely to be needed to gain widespread use outside the country. If that happens, Cuba has done a promise to spread its technology to The rest of the world as well.



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