Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma Ltd and US-based COVAXX have signed an exclusive pact to develop, commercialise and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines for India and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) agency. The deal has been signed to leverage on Aurobindo's existing development, commercial and manufacturing facilities in Hyderabad.
COVAXX is currently conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial for the vaccine candidate, named UB-612. As per the company, it's the first "multi-tope, synthetic peptide-based COVID-19 vaccine". Peptides are crucial for the biological process to stimulate the immune response.
COVAXX candidate's main advantage is that it utilises normal refrigeration, and no freezing temperature, for distribution.
Covaxx's Phase 2/3 clinical trials will start in 1Q 2021 in Asia, Latin America and USA. "We are proud to partner with COVAXX in developing the first-ever synthetic peptide-based vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This vaccine has immense potential in eliminating shedding, and hence containing, the spread of the pandemic," N Govindarajan, Managing Director, Aurobindo Pharma said.
After the agreement, Aurobindo has exclusive rights to develop, manufacture COVAXX's UB-612 vaccine in India and sell it to UNICEF. It also has non-exclusive rights in other select emerging and developing markets.
Aurobindo will make the finished doses at its facilities in Hyderabad. Its total vaccine manufacturing capacity currently stands at 220 million doses. Expecting a rise in demand for vaccine in future, the company is building additional facilities and aims to raise capacity to nearly 480 million doses by June 2021.
Mei Mei Hu, co-founder and CEO of COVAXX, said Aurobindo Pharma is the ideal partner to advance UB-612 in India and other emerging nations to support the company's mission of democratising health worldwide. COVAXX is a subsidiary of United Biomedical Inc (UBI), founded in 1985, with headquarters in New York.
The Aurobindo-COVAXX deal will play a key role in meeting India's vast vaccine requirement. The country plans to start the world's biggest mass inoculation drive in January. As per the initial plan, over 30 crore people may be vaccinated in the first phase by July. The government claims it has assessed the present requirement of vaccines and is working towards augmenting capacities.