Tata Group's new healthcare venture, Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd (TataMD) has started exploratory talks with US biotechnology firm Moderna for a partnership to launch its COVID-19 vaccine in India.
As per the government's norms, it is mandatory for a foreign vaccine-making firm to conduct at least a Phase-3 trial with Indian volunteers even if it is approved outside India.
As a result, Tatas might team up with Centres' R&D organisation--Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) to carry out clinical trials of Moderna's vaccine in India, according to a report in The Economic Times.
Moderna's vaccine, which is based on mRNA technology, has reported 94.1 per cent efficacy in treating patients infected with COVID-19. Besides, the US company's vaccine has been approved for use in countries including the US, Canada, and the UK.
Moderna's vaccine is stable for up to six months at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 F), about home freezer levels, when shipped and stored, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC also informed that Moderna's coronavirus vaccine has caused very few severe allergic reactions. Of the over four million people who were administered the vaccine from December 21, 2020, to January 10, 2021, only 10 developed anaphylaxis.
Several Indian companies have tied up with international vaccine-making firms for testing and supplying COVID-19 vaccines in the country. For instance, the Pune-based Serum Institute of India developed the Covishield in collaboration with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. Meanwhile, Dr Reddy's Laboratories in India is developing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, and Biological E is conducting trials for Johnson & Johnson's candidate.
Moderna has no separate tie-up with any Indian manufacturers, and its first supply commitments are to governments that pre-ordered vaccines.
Last year in January, Moderna received fundings from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is part of the COVAX facility of the World Health Organisation, to develop a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. The COVAX facility aims to equitably distribute two billion coronavirus vaccine doses in low-and middle-income countries including India by the end of 2021.