Nasal COVID Vaccine: Bharat Biotech Head Confident About Efficacy

Bharat Biotech’s top honcho is confident about the efficacy of the intra-nasal vaccine against COVID-19 that the Hyderabad-based company is developing.

Bharat Biotech’s Chairman and MD Dr Krisha Ella said on Sunday that the vaccine, which is supported by Department of Biotechnology and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, will serve as a strong booster in strengthening immune responses as a follow-up to Covaxin.

The country’s drug regulator has cleared the BBV154 intranasal vaccine for Phase 2/3 human clinical trials.

“We are working on a combination of Covaxin followed by nasal, so that Covaxin primes the system of innate immunity and then the boost by the nasal which produce three immune responses – the IGG, the IGA and then mucosal immunity. All three immunities are powerful and can protect a person from getting infected,” Dr Ella told Times Now during the channel’s Freedom Summit on I-Day.

On the necessity of a third dose, he said: “We will give the data to the government, it’s for the government to take the decision with its regulatory agencies but we are certainly working on the nasal to plug in along with this. If nasal works out very well, our production capacity doubles.”

The demand for vaccines continues to be bigger than supply, but Dr Ella said Bharat Biotech has a plan ready to increase production significantly.

“The mRNA vaccine can be produced with one of the easiest technologies in the world. You can produce in a week, and you can produce 20 million doses with mRNA. Coming to the adenovirus, which is a vector-based vaccine, I can manufacture in less than seven days. Whereas the same inactivated vaccine that we produce to be used in children, that can take 120 days to produce. The other two platforms, it is easy to scale up to 2000 litres, 5000 litres, whereas when it comes to inactivated vaccines, nobody has scaled up more than 1000 litres in the world and we are the first company trying to scale it to 5000 litres in our Bengaluru facility. People have not understood how complicated this technology is.”

He further said that they have three production facilities in Hyderabad, where production is increasing.

“In Bengaluru, there is now a new facility. It takes time for the new facility to begin production, it has to be validated properly, and monitored strictly. We’ve reached a certain level of confidence in Bengaluru. In Gujarat, we started a plant in Ankleshwar, where we were producing a rabies vaccine and now we will produce Covaxin. We already have human resources in Gujarat. We are trying to go from 1,000 to 10,000 litres, nobody has done this… We are on the game. If we solve the problem, we will be the largest manufacturers of cell culture-based vaccine in the world.”

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