Corbevax is a vaccine against poverty by CARLOS MATÍAS
Scientist María Elena Bottazzi has been postulated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to create the only universal vaccine against Covid-19, free of patents so that the whole world can manufacture it and administer to the population, without discrimination due to race, religion, economic level or country. Dr. Bottazzi spoke to Sol de Medianoche after learning of her nomination, along with Dr. Peter Hotez, Pope Francis, and activist Greta Thunberg, among others. The Norwegian Nobel Committee will decide the winner in October.
Maria Elena Bottazzi is a microbiologist at the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. Along with Peter Hotez, M.D., of Baylor Medicine, she is the author of the Corbevax vaccine against Covid-19, the only patent-free vaccine that Hotez and Bottazzi share universally so that everyone can be protected.
“It’s a vaccine against poverty,” Maria Elena Bottazzi explains to Sol de Medianoche, “We wanted a unique vaccine, free of patents and cheaper to produce, and we have succeeded. We want to benefit people,” she adds, “and we have thought of the world’s poorest nations and peoples. We want to promote public health without economic, ideological, or religious barriers and the result is Corbevax.”
And the result, too, is that Drs. Bottazzi and Hotez have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. Maria Elena Bottazzi was born in Italy and grew up in Honduras, where she studied Microbiology and Clinical Chemistry in 1989. As a Latina, she has had to overcome discrimination and prejudice. But she has been able to overcome it all. Bottazzi received her PhD in Molecular Immunology and Experimental Pathology from the University of Florida in 1995; she did her postdoctoral work in Cell Biology at the University of Miami in 1998 and at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. She taught at George Washington University and moved to Houston to work at the Texas Children’s Hospital Vaccine Development Center in 2011. Since then, more than a decade ago, she has been researching and working to create vaccines.
“Our goal has been to develop inexpensive and durable vaccines to contribute to global health,” Bottazzi tells Sol de Medianoche. Her work has focused on “creating the new Corbevax vaccine and making it accessible and easy to replicate in countries around the world.”
What sets Corbevax apart from other vaccines? Bottazzi explains: “The technology with which it has been created is known; it is based on previous experiences with vaccines such as hepatitis B, pertussis and others that are well known. This inspires confidence and reduces the fears of supposed adverse side effects of a recent and, because it is recent, unknown vaccine. It is made with proteins, in a vegan way, because we use a yeast fermentation system.”
In other words: instead of the mRNA technology of Pfizer and Moderna, or others, Corbevax relies on recombinant proteins used for decades.Thus, there is no room for questions of conscience because it is not made from human-derived cells. “This technology is cheaper, and its development is free. Any government or company can contact us, and we will give them the starter kit to begin manufacturing. Our doses cost between $2 and $3, much less than others. And it has more than 80% effectiveness with Beta and Delta variants. Now we’re investigating how it reacts with Omicron.”
“When it comes to public health crises, developing countries depend on technology from rich countries. Latin America always must wait for someone else to solve its problems. This is an opportunity to start having regional self-sufficiency,” she says. To conclude, María Elena Bottazzi recommends: “Nobody should lower their guard; nobody should relax precautionary measures and protection against the contagion of this pandemic.”
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