Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has inked a pact with Washington University School of Medicine for a single dose intranasal vaccine against COVID-19. As part of the licensing agreement, Bharat Biotech will carry out trials, manufacture and market the vaccine being developed by the US-based university.
This inoculation adds to Bharat Biotech's portfolio of vaccines currently being developed by it and are in several stages of clinical development, comprising COVAXIN - which is India's first indigenous vaccine against coronavirus and is presently in phase-2 of human clinical tests in the country.
The Hyderabad-based biotech company owns the right to distribute the vaccine in all markets except the US, Europe, and Japan, the vaccine maker said in a press release.
While the Phase-1 trials will take place at St Louis University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, Bharat Biotech, upon obtaining the required regulatory approval, will pursue further stages of clinical trials in India and undertake large scale manufacturing of the vaccine at its GMP facility located in Genome Valley in Hyderabad, it said.
"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," Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, Dr. Krishna Ella said.
The company envisions to scale this vaccine to one billion doses, translating to an equal number of individuals vaccinated receiving a single-dose regimen.
An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but will also reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles, syringes, etc., significantly impacting the overall cost of a vaccination drive, the company said in its release.
Director of Biologic Therapeutics Center and Professor of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine and Precision Virologics Interim CEO, Dr. David T Curiel said, "The ability to accomplish effective immunisation with a single nasal dose is a major advantage, offering broader reach and easier administration."
He added, "An effective nasal dose not only protects against COVID-19, but it also prevents the spread of the disease by offering another kind of immunity that occurs primarily in the cells that line the nose and throat. Most other vaccine candidates currently under development, can't do that."
(With inputs from PTI)