Hilleman Labs teams up with biopharma major Gotovax AB to develop 90% more potent booster

In four years’ time, the world is likely to get a new oral cholera vaccine that will have a greater impact at a significantly lower cost. Hilleman Laboratories, a joint-venture partnership between pharma major Merck and U.K.-based Wellcome Trust, on Tuesday announced a collaboration with Gotovax AB.

Gotovax AB is a University of Gothenburg Biopharma company.

According to Hilleman Labs CEO Davinder Gill, the new vaccine, which is currently undergoing final pre-clinical studies, would provide 85-90 per cent higher protection in the first six months. It would also provide extra protection against diarrhoea caused by the bacteria Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.

Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Gill said the aim was to make the price significantly lower than the lowest in the market, thereby expanding accessibility. Currently, a vaccine manufactured by Shantha Biotech was the lowest, at $1.85 per dose, he said. The final price would be lower and be made available for both mass public health vaccination campaigns and the open market, Dr. Gill said. While the prophylactic would be targeted at children aged between 1 and 14 years, it would be suitable for adults too, Dr. Gill said. “Our ‘thermostable technologies will enhance the stability of the formulation, making the vaccine more attractive for worldwide stockpiling purposes,” he said.

Cholera, with an estimated mortality of 1-1.2 lakh deaths, is endemic to over 50 countries.