Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech on Wednesday announced its manufacturing up to 100 crores doses of a single dose intranasal adenovirus vaccine for COVID-19. The company along with the US-based biotech firm Precision Virologics has collaborated with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri and had jointly obtained the rights.
The agreement will help in vaccine distribution including the high vaccination costs and a possible shortage of staff to dispense the doses of the vaccine to the population.
Bharat Biotech which has entered into an agreement with the university will own the rights to distribute the novel chimp-adenovirus "in all markets" except the US, Japan and Europe with subject to regulatory approvals.
According to the Bharat Biotech, an intranasal vaccine will be easy to administer and reduce the usage of medical consumables like needles and syringes which will impact the total cost of a vaccination drive.
"The licensing agreements will lead to rapid clinical development, following the intranasal vaccine candidate has shown unprecedented levels of protection in mouse studies. This technology and data recently were published in Cell and Nature," the company said.
The Phase I trials are expected to start at the St. Louis University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit. Bharat Biotech, upon obtaining the regulatory approval, will undertake the further stages of clinical trials in India. It will also pursue large scale manufacture of the vaccine at its facility located in Genome Valley Hyderabad.
Adenovirus vaccines use a genetically modified virus to send a code to the cells in the human body in order to produce the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This will help the human body to recognize the spike protein as a foreign substance and make a strong immunity against it that can fight the real virus when it tries to get in and infect the body.
"We are proud to collaborate on this innovative vaccine. We envision that we will scale this vaccine to 1 billion doses (100 crores); translating to 1 billion individuals vaccinated receiving a single-dose regimen. Our experience in viral vaccines, manufacturing capabilities, and distribution continue to be our strong suit in ensuring safe, efficacious, and affordable vaccines. It is prudent for Bharat to be involved in diverse but tenable projects to provide a much-needed vaccine against COVID-19 reaches all citizens of the world," LiveMint quoted Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, Dr Krishna Ella as saying.
Dr David T Curiel, Director of Biologic Therapeutics Center and Professor of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis said, "The ability to accomplish effective immunization with a single nasal dose is a major advantage, offering broader reach and easier administration."
"An effective nasal dose not only protects against COVID-19, but it also prevents the spread of the disease by directly targeting the cells that line the nose and throat. Most other vaccine candidates currently under development can't do that," he added.
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