HYDERABAD: Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech on Wednesday announced a licensing agreement with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, USA, for developing a single-dose intranasal vaccine for Covid-19.
The vaccine is based on a novel chimp-adenovirus and its phase-1 trials will take place at the university’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, according to a press release issued by the company.
After obtaining necessary approvals from the Indian authorities, further stages of the clinical trial will take place in the country and large-scale manufacturing will begin at the company’s facility in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.
Bharat Biotech will own the rights to distribute the vaccine in all countries, barring the USA, Japan and Europe, and aims to manufacture up to one billion doses. This will help an equal number of people as the vaccine is a single dose.
“An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but also reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles and syringes. This will significantly bring down the overall cost of a vaccination drive,” Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director Dr Krishna Ella said. He added, “Our experience in viral vaccines, manufacturing capabilities and distribution continues to be our strong suit, especially 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 to fight Covid-19 across the world”.
The company claims that the vaccine has already shown unprecedented levels of protection in mice and data from the study was recently published in the journal, Cell. Dr David T Curiel, director of the Biologic Therapeutics Center at the Washington University School of Medicine and interim CEO of Precision Virologics, said, “The ability to accomplish effective immunisation 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 also prevents the spread of the disease by offering another kind of immunity which occurs primarily in the cells that line the nose and throat. Most other vaccine candidates, currently under development, cannot do that”.