WHO expert group to review Corbevax data this week

An expert group from the World Health Organization will this week review Biological E’s data on their Covid-19 vaccine, Corbevax. The data review follows BE’s application for a listing for emergency use for Corbevax.

An EUL paves the way for more countries to include the vaccine in their vaccination programs. And if Corbevax ultimately gets the go-ahead from the WHO, it would be the third vaccine company from India, after Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, to get an EUL for its Covid-19 vaccine.

The four-day meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) begins on Monday with the review of several issues, including the global polio eradication programme. The evidence review for Corbevax is scheduled for October 5 th . According to WHO’s draft agenda, SAGE will formulate policy recommendations for this vaccine if it gets the green light at a later date.

To explain the importance of an EUL when the WHO itself has indicated that the end of the pandemic was in sight, BE’s Dr. Vikram Paradkar, Executive Vice President (Manufacturing & Technical Operations), an EUL was an important milestone for any Covid-19 vaccine, especially in terms of meeting quality benchmarks. “Vaccines are still used in many parts of the world and have been extended to different parts of the population. Having an EUL is essential for any vaccine to be deployed to different parts of the globe,” Paradkar said business line.

BE is hoping for approval not only for adults over 18, but also for children over 5 and as a booster for those over 18, as is the case in India. The reason they think they have a case is because Corbevax is the same across age groups, unlike some other vaccines that aren’t recommended for children or have separate doses for different age groups, he said. The same vaccine is also used as a booster, he added.

All settings

Corbevax can be used in all settings and has significant advantages in large campaigns, rollouts, etc., Paradkar said, adding that their vaccine “would be a much-needed addition to the current arsenal,” especially in countries where they are still implementing vaccines and have large populations to vaccinate.

BE is working on a bivalent vaccine that targets the original Wuhan strain of the virus and the widely spread BA.5 offshoot of the Omicron variant, he said.

India had approved Corbevax for the 12-14 age group on March 16 and currently over 3.18 crore have been vaccinated, he said, making it one of the largest pediatric rollouts in the world in that age group. The company has produced 300 million doses, of which 100 have been given to the government. It has the capacity to make 100 million doses per month.

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