The Central government has ordered 30 crore doses of unapproved COVID-19 vaccine from an Indian firm Biological E (Bio E), and also made an advance payment of ₹1,500 crore to the company in monetary assistance to stockpile the doses, marking a shift in the government's policy to vaccinate the citizens.
The advance payment of ₹1,500 crore is India's first at-risk investment on vaccines until now which means the country decided to invest in the jabs that have not yet received emergency-use approval.
Bio E's vaccine has shown promising results in the first two phases, and the third phase trial is underway. The vaccine, known as Corbevax, is likely to be the cheapest vaccine available in India; and the production is expected to be easily scalable, reported The Indian Express.
The Hyderabad-based company will manufacture and stockpile the vaccine from August to December 2021, reported The Times of India.
Corbevax uses a recombinant protein platform, which is not currently used by any other vaccine producer in India. The recombinant protein is expected to target the specific part of coronavirus, triggering an immune response which is emergence of the spike protein on its surface, reported The Indian Express.
This vaccine is being developed in collaboration with Texas-based Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), with whom the company entered into an agreement in August 2020.
The government's decision to order vaccines from Bio E comes after the company reportedly submitted a proposal for the advance payment.
"The proposal was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19," said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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