Three more Covid vaccines approved in India! Here is how they work

India has approved two Covid vaccines and one Covid pill on December 28. Thus, a total of eight Covid vaccines have got emergency use authorization from India’s drug regulator

India has approved two Covid vaccines and one Covid pill on December 28. The Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has informed that Molunupiravir, the Covid pill shall be used only in an emergency.

“It’s a hat-trick! It’s now the third vaccine developed in India,” Mr Mandaviya said. Both Covaxin and Covishield were developed in India by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, respectively.

A total of eight Covid vaccines have got emergency use authorization from India’s drug regulator – Covishield, Covaxin, ZyCoV-D, Sputnik V, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Corbevax and Covovax.

What is Molnupiravir?

Molnupiravir is an antiviral pill initially developed to treat influenza. It is now repurposed as an oral anti-viral candidate to treat Covid patients. Administered as four 200 mg capsules taken orally every 12 hours, Molnupiravir introduces errors into the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ genetic code that prevents replication of the virus. It is taken for five days.

On November 4, the UK became the first country to approve the oral drug. “This prevents it from multiplying, keeping virus levels low in the body and therefore reducing the severity of the disease,” the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said. It also added that Molnupiravir is “safe and effective” following a “stringent review of the available evidence”.

In the US, the drug was also cleared in “certain adults” on December 23. The drug regulator said, “Emergency use authorisation for Molnupiravir for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in adults with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.”

Molunupiravir drugs

Molnupiravir is not fit for use in patients younger than 18 years of age because it can affect bone and cartilage growth, the regulator has categorically mentioned.

Thirteen Indian drug makers will produce the drug  — Dr. Reddy Laboratories, Cipla, Natco Pharma, Optimus Pharma Pvt Ltd, Stride, and, Hetero – are some of the big names in the list. In India, the drug developed by US-based biotechnology firm Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Pharma giant Merck has been cleared for patients with high progression risks.

What is Corbevax?

Corbevax is made by Hyderabad-based firm, Biological-E. It is India’s first indigenously developed RBD protein sub-unit vaccine against Covid. It is made with spike protein of SARS CoV-2 and designed using the same technology used for developing the Hepatitis-B vaccine. SARS CoV-2 is the virus that causes Covid.

The vaccine injects the spike protein to build an advanced immune response. Since the spike protein does not have the virus, the body uses the antibody generated to fight the real virus. Corbevax is similar to Covishield as it attempts to segregate and use spike protein to build an immune response in the body. The vaccine should be taken in two doses with an interval of 28 days. Corbevax has to be stored between 2 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius.

What is Covovax?

Covovax will be developed by the Serum Institute (SII) in Pune. On December 17, the World Health Organisation has issued an emergency use listing to the nanoparticle vaccine. However, the DCGI had granted permissions to SII for manufacturing and stocking Covovax in May 2021.

Covovax is a recombinant protein vaccine that uses spike proteins to develop immunity against the virus. The vaccine is known as Novavax outside India. It had a 90.4% efficacy in a clinical trial of 29,960 people in South Africa.