A group of scientists in Texas has announced the development of a new COVID-19 vaccine using established technology with a track record of being effective, safe, and affordable. The new medication will be a “game-changer” for developing nations.
The vaccine is named Corbevax and was authorized in December for India. A study determined the vaccine is 90 percent effective against the original COVID virus and 80 percent effective against the delta variant. A study involving the omicron variant is still ongoing.
Developers expect the new vaccine to be produced, stored, and administered much less expensive than the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Researchers Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi began work on the new vaccine almost 20 years ago at George Washington University. Their original work dealt with vaccines and treatments for tropical infectious diseases, NPR reported. They soon turned their immediate attention to SARS when it broke out in 2003. They have since worked in Houston with the Baylor University College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development.
The vaccine they developed uses protein subunit technology that causes the immune system to develop an effective response without causing disease. Hotez said the technology is the same format as the longstanding vaccine for hepatitis B.
The SARS outbreak eventually ended before the Hotez and Bottazzi vaccine was needed for that disease. When COVID-19 came along, they reopened their research because the two viruses were very similar.
They found that the U.S. government ignored their renewed work. Hotez said that the focus on innovation left their work on low-cost and durable vaccines outside of mainstream attention.
Bottazzi added that the failure of their research to get attention in the U.S. led them to focus on developing something that would be highly useful in lower-income countries. They received funding for their work from private charities and philanthropies in New York and Texas.
Hotez and Bottazzi have worked to ensure that the intellectual property behind the Corbevax vaccine will remain publicly available. They have said that they want the vaccine to be widely available worldwide at the lowest possible cost.