Bharat Biotech, a leading manufacturer of biotherapeutics and vaccines, has entered an agreement in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. The agreement includes rights for development, clinical trials, manufacture, and distribution of a novel single-dose intranasal vaccine against COVID-19.
Under the agreement, Bharat Biotech will have the rights to distribute the vaccine in markets except for Japan, Europe, and the U.S. The phase 1 trials will be conducted in St. Louis’s vaccine and treatment evaluation unit. Phase-1 trials are conducted to check the safety of the vaccine in humans. After obtaining the required approvals, the firm will conduct the subsequent phases of trials in India. Large-scale manufacture of the vaccine will then be undertaken at the firm’s GMP facility, which is located at Genome Valley in Hyderabad. The firm plans to manufacture around 1 billion doses of the novel vaccine.
This agreement will help to overcome difficulties like distribution of the vaccine, high cost of vaccination, and the possibility of a shortage of staff to administer the vaccine to the population. Krishna Ella, Bharat Biotech Chairmanand Managing Director, expressed pride in the firm’s collaboration on the innovation. He also mentioned his vision that Bharat Biotech will manufacture a billion doses. The vaccine will be a single dose. He mentioned that an intranasal vaccine will be easy to administer and reduce the use of consumables like syringes, needles, etc, thereby reducing the cost of a vaccination drive. Ella added that the firm’s strength is its experience in manufacturing and distributing vaccines that are safe, effective, and affordable.
According to a statement released by Bharat Biotech, the intranasal vaccine has shown unparalleled protection in mice studies. Technology and data for the same have been published in Cell as well as Nature, both scientific journals.
In a statement made by Dr. David T Curiel, who is the director of the Biologic Therapeutics Center and a professor of radiation oncology at the Washington University School of Medicine, achieving immunization with a single dose of vaccination is a big advantage. It allows for easier administration and a broader reach. An effective nasal dose offers protection against COVID-19 and prevents the disease from spreading. This is because the vaccine offers immunity that occurs mainly in the cells of the throat and nose. He mentioned that most other vaccine candidates do not do that.
An Adenovirus vaccine is a vaccine that uses a genetically modified virus. This virus carries the code for the cells in the body, enabling it to produce the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This enables the body to recognize the spike protein as foreign, thereby making the body produce an immune response to fight the actual virus.
Other Adenovirus vaccines being tested in India are Covishield, developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca, or AZD1222. Sputnik V has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, Moscow, and is also called the “Russian Vaccine”. Both of these vaccine candidates are injectable and not intranasal.