‘Open source’ vaccine shows how vaccines could be available to all
January 13, 2022: As Big Pharma continues to block efforts to lift intellectual property monopolies on COVID19 vaccines, a team of scientists in Texas have announced in the Scientific American plans to deliver a ‘COVID vaccine for all’.
The vaccine, dubbed CORBEVAX, does not have any patents or strings attached to either the production company BioE or the researchers who developed the vaccine prototype at Texas Children’s CVD and Baylor.
Lead scientists behind the vaccine, Maria Elena Bottazzi and Peter J. Hotez, have described the vaccine as “the first COVID vaccine designed specifically for global health”, adding, “We believe that, with our low-cost yet highly effective, safe, and easy to store and distribute recombinant protein vaccine, we might finally achieve global vaccine equity and overcome vaccine hesitancy and refusal.”
Speaking to the Washington Post, Peter Hotez said: “We’re not trying to make money. We just want to see people get vaccinated.”
The scientists note that the vaccine was developed with no major government funding, instead relying almost exclusively on private philanthropy, posing the question: “Is it possible that, had we even had a fraction of the support afforded to the biotech or multinational companies producing new technology vaccines, the world might have been vaccinated by now? Possibly, we could have prevented the emergence of Omicron.”
The vaccine has already received emergency approval from India’s drug regulation agency, and the Indian government has since ordered 300 million doses. BioE, the company manufacturing the vaccine, plans to produce 100 million or more doses per month starting in February. Approximately 150 million doses have already been produced and are ready to roll out. In addition to what the company is supplying to India, BioE plans to deliver more than one billion additional doses to other countries.
The vaccine developers say that CORBEVAX will soon vaccinate more people than vaccine doses donated so far by the U.S. government or any other G7 country.
Vaccine equity advocates have said that the CORBEVAX vaccine shows the benefits of a public goods response to the pandemic. Speaking to the Washington Post, Peter Maybarduk (Public Citizen), said: “Texas Children’s Hospital’s commitment to sharing technology is a challenge to the pharma giants and the false narrative that vaccine production and medical innovation thrive through secrecy and exclusivity. If Texas Children’s Hospital can do it, why can’t Pfizer and Moderna?”
The Washington Post says that while a company representative declined to discuss the price per dose, Indian media has reported that it may be as low as $2.50 — which would make Corbevax not only the cheapest coronavirus vaccine in India but one of the cheapest in the world.