Bharat Biotech to collaborate with Washington University School of Medicine on COVID-19 nasal vaccine

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Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has entered into an agreement with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as part of which it will conduct trials, produce and market an intranasal vaccine for COVID-19 being developed by the latter.

It is a novel chimp-adenovirus, single dose intranasal vaccine that was found to be effective in preventing infection in mice susceptible to the novel coronavirus, the company said, announcing a licensing agreement.

While Phase I trials will take place in Saint Louis University’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, Bharat Biotech, on receipt of regulatory approval, will pursue further stages of clinical trials in India. The company will also undertake large scale manufacture of the vaccine at its GMP facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.

Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella said “we are proud to collaborate on this innovative vaccine. We envision that we will scale this vaccine to 1 billion doses.”

An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles and syringes significantly impacting the overall cost of a vaccination drive, he said.

Bharat Biotech owns the rights to distribute the vaccine in all markets except USA, Japan and Europe.

A release from the company said the intranasal vaccine candidate has shown “unprecedented levels of protection in mice studies; the technology and data having been recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Cell and in an editorial in Nature.”

Director of Biologic Therapeutics Center and Professor of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine and Precision Virologics interim CEO Dr. David T. Curiel said “the ability to accomplish effective immunization 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 it 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.”

Bharat Biotech said Covaxin, an indigenous, inactivated vaccine being developed with ICMR- National Institute of Virology (NIV), is in Phase II human clinical trials.

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