BENGALURU: Two leading biotech players — Bengaluru-based Biocon Biologics Limited and Pune-based Serum Institute Life Sciences Private Ltd — have come together in a strategic alliance in a bid to increase vaccines and antibody therapeutics access for developing countries, for infectious diseases, including Covid-19, dengue and HIV.
As part of the deal, BBL has offered 15% stake to SILS at a post-money valuation of $4.9 billion in exchange for committed access to 100 million doses of vaccines per year for 15 years.
Announcing this at a joint press meet on Friday, Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla said the partnership aims to complement the strengths and resources of the two leading players and make a significant impact on global healthcare through vaccines and biologics. “BBL will commercialise Serum’s vaccine portfolio, including Covid vaccines for global markets, and this would also be additional growth for BBL. Research and manufacturing infrastructure will also be leveraged by this partnership for opportunities in infectious diseases,” Shaw said.
Poonawala said SII had to delay its plans to work on and produce monoclonal therapies for Covid due to the huge demand for Covishield vaccine production, and the new tie-up aims to address this. The duo stressed that the synergistic future-oriented deal will help growth of both companies. Adding that there is more to the partnership than just the 100 million vaccines that has been talked about, Poonawala said, “The opportunities are limitless and we will look at monoclonals and other therapeutics,” he said.
Kid vax Covovax by Jan-Feb?
Adar Poonawalla said he is hopeful that Covovax, a vaccine for children as young as four years, will be ready for recommendation by January or February 2022. “Covovax has started trials on children. Three to four months is the minimum period we need to ascertain how safe, effective and accepted it is for children. We are going below the age of 12 in a phased manner, so we can cover almost down to the age of three or four,” he said. Though the disease has not affected children to the same degree as it has adults, eventually every parent would want to vaccinate their child, he said. Poonawala, though, did not want to commit to an exact time frame, said, “My rough forecast is that it will be ready for recommendation by January or Febraury.”