Bharat Biotech, intranasal vaccine iNCOVACC, Covid
Bharat Biotech Managing Director, Krishna Ella.

Centre approves nasal vaccine as booster dose amid fears of COVID spike

Bharat Biotech’s intranasal Covid vaccine, branded as iNCOVACC, has been approved by the Union Health Ministry as a booster dose for those aged 18 years and above, and is likely to be introduced on the Co-WIN platform by Friday evening (December 23), official sources said.

The needle-free vaccine will be available at private hospitals as of now and can be administered as a precautionary dose to adults who have been vaccinated with two doses of either Covishield or Covaxin.

It is likely to be rolled out in the national Covid vaccination programme soon, they said.

Also read: Kerala govt reopens COVID monitoring cell

The ministry’s approval for the intranasal vaccine as a booster comes amid a spurt in Covid cases in China and some other countries.

The nasal vaccine, BBV154, received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in November for restricted use in an emergency situation for those above 18 years as a heterologous booster dose.

‘Example of India’s R&D prowess in vaccine development’

“Intranasal vaccine is another example of India’s research and development prowess in the vaccine development arena. It is easy to administer and builds up immune barriers in the respiratory tract through which respiratory viruses enter the body. It is now approved and recommended as one of the options for precautionary dose,” the chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), Dr NK Arora, told PTI.

Also read: COVID: Drills, oxygen plants: India ready to tackle another wave

The intranasal vaccine iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vector vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilised spike protein. This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phase I, II and III clinical trials with successful results, the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker said in a statement.

Clinical trials were conducted to evaluate iNCOVACC as a primary dose schedule as well as a heterologous booster dose for subjects who have previously received two doses of either Covishield or Covaxin.

Partnership with Washington University

The vaccine was developed in partnership with Washington University, St. Louis, which had designed and developed the recombinant adenoviral vector construct and evaluated it in preclinical studies for efficacy.

Product development related to preclinical safety evaluation, large-scale manufacturing scale-up, formulation and delivery device development, including human clinical trials, were conducted by Bharat Biotech.

Also read: Virologist Gagandeep Kang on Covid: At the moment, India is doing fine

Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the Government of India through the Department of Biotechnology’s Covid Suraksha programme.

Govt recommends precautionary dose

The government has advised those eligible to take the precautionary dose and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks and social distancing.

Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, will hold a meeting with the health ministers of the states and Union territories about the Covid-related situation in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Thursday (December 22) cautioned people against complacency and urged them to wear masks in crowded places, while also directing officials to strengthen surveillance measures, especially at international airports.

(With Agency inputs)

Read More
Next Story