Serum Institute of India to develop a COVID-19 vaccine with Codagenix Inc: What are live attenuated vaccines?
Live attenuated vaccines are a type of vaccine which is made from a weakened version of the original microorganism.
On Tuesday, the Serum Institute of India announced a collaboration with Codagenix Inc, a major US pharmaceutical company to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Located in Pune, the Serum Institute of India is currently the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, according to the number of vaccines and number of doses of vaccines sold in the world. The institute already produces and sells vaccines for polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps and many more diseases. It is estimated that 65% of children in the world have received at least one dose of polio vaccine made at this institute.
On the other hand, Codagenics Inc creates viral vaccines on the basis of the genome of the virus.
In March, India had become the fifth country in the world to isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus (after China, Japan, Thailand and the USA). Isolation of a virus is usually the first step needed to make a vaccine against it. The virus was isolated at the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
Live attenuated vaccines
Live attenuated vaccines are a type of vaccine which is made from a weakened version of the original microorganism. When injected into the host, it does multiply, however, it is not strong enough to cause disease. The human immune system can identify the virus quickly and generate large amounts of antibodies against it. Thus, making the person immune to the microbe.
One of the oldest vaccines to use live attenuated microbe was against the smallpox virus. Live attenuated vaccines are being used to protects against diseases like rabies, measles, mumps, polio and rubella. The microbe is inactivated by modifying it in the laboratory.
Viruses cannot grow on their own. They need a live host to replicate. Once a virus enters a healthy cell, it uses the machinery of that cell to make multiple copies of itself and infect more cells.
Codagenics Inc uses computer algorithms to optimise the viral genes in such a way that it is read slowly by the host. In other words, they create such versions of a virus which can multiply inside the host so slowly that they can’t cause the disease. This kind of virus is called a live attenuated virus.
Benefits and limitations of live attenuated vaccines
Generally, 1 or 2 doses of live attenuated vaccines make the person immune to the disease for a lifetime. However, these vaccines have the following limitations:
- Immunocompromised people, those who have had an organ transplant or people with long-term diseases should talk to a doctor before taking these vaccines.
- These vaccines need to kept in cold temperatures to keep them viable.
- These vaccines have a minute risk of being reverted to a virulent form.
Apart from the Serum Institute of India, another vaccine manufacturing company Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL) is also working on a live attenuated vaccine for the novel coronavirus. IIL has joined hands with Griffith University, Australia, to develop this vaccine.
IIL was established by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and is one of the major contributors of vaccines in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme.
For more information, read our article on Passive Antibody Therapy.
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