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A man rides his motorbike past a parked bus of biotechnology company Bharat Biotech outside its office in Hyderabad (Reuters)
A man rides his motorbike past a parked bus of biotechnology company Bharat Biotech outside its office in Hyderabad (Reuters)

Bharat Biotech inks pact with US university for covid vaccine

The pact gives the vaccine developer rights to distribute the vaccine in all markets except US, Japan, Europe

Bharat Biotech International Ltd on Wednesday announced a licensing agreement with Washington University School of Medicine in the US for a single dose intranasal vaccine for covid-19 based on a novel chimpanzee adenovirus. The pact gives the Hyderabad-based vaccine developer the rights to distribute the vaccine in all markets except the US, Japan and Europe.

Under the pact, phase I trials will take place in the university’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, while Bharat Biotech will undertake further stages of clinical trials in India and large-scale manufacturing of the vaccine at its facility in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.

“We envision that we will scale this vaccine to 1 billion doses, translating to 1 billion individuals vaccinated receiving a single-dose regimen," said Bharat Biotech founder chairman and managing director Krishna Ella.

The development comes four days after the biology journal Cell published a study on the vaccine, which showed that it generated strong immune response in mice against the novel coronavirus.

The study was then cited in an editorial in another scientific journal Nature.

“An effective nasal dose not only protects against covid-19, but also prevents the spread of the disease by offering another kind of immunity that occurs primarily in the cells that line the nose and throat. Most other vaccine candidates currently under development can’t do that," said David T. Curiel, co-author of the study and director of the Biologic Therapeutics Center and professor of radiation oncology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Chimpanzee adenovirus as a vector for generating immune response is also used in the vaccine candidate being jointly developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc. However, the vaccine is given to people through intramuscular injection.

Bharat Biotech is also conducting a phase 2 trial on a wholly-inactivated virus vaccine candidate that it has co-developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR’s) National Institute of Virology.

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