At a time when everyone is worried about WHEN the coronavirus vaccine will be available, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech is working on HOW the vaccine will be administered for better and quicker results.
The company on Wednesday (September 23) announced that it has collaborated with the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, to make about 100 crore (one billion) doses of a single-dose intranasal COVID-19 vaccine. The tie-up will most likely help overcome difficulties with regards to distribution of the vaccine, cost or even shortage of personnel to administer the doses.
Bharat Biotech has a licensing agreement with the university for the novel chimp-adenovirus candidate and has the distribution rights of the vaccine in all markets except the United States, Japan, and Europe. The large-scale manufacturing of the vaccine will happen in Bharat Biotech’s facility in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.
While the phase I human trials will take place in the US, further clinical trials are most likely to be done in India, provided the regulatory approvals come through, the company said in a press release.
Adenovirus vaccines are basically vaccines that use a genetically-modified virus to carry a code for the cells in the human body to produce the spiky outer layer (spike protein) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is expected to help the body recognise this spike protein as a foreign substance and build an immune response against it so that it can tackle the real virus when it tries to infect the cell.
Other vaccines that are in different stages of trials are Covishield (University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca) and Sputnik V (Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow). Both are injectable vaccines as against Bharat Biotech shot, which is intranasal.
“We envision that we will scale this vaccine to one billion doses, translating to one billion individuals vaccinated receiving a single-dose regimen,” said Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech. “An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles, syringes, etc., significantly impacting the overall cost of a vaccination drive,” he added.