Significant data on nasal vaccine likely in 2.5 months: Bharat Biotech founder Krishna Ella

Clinical trial to pair Covaxin, nasal vaccine doses on cards, Mr. Ella says.

July 29, 2021 05:18 pm | Updated 10:33 pm IST - HYDERABAD:

File photo of Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech Dr. Krishna Ella

File photo of Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech Dr. Krishna Ella

Bharat Biotech founder Krishna Ella on July 29 said the company was expecting significant data on its intranasal COVID-19 vaccine to be available in the next two and half months.

“In another two to two and a half months, we are going to have significant data,” he said, without committing to a timeline by which the nasal vaccine, whose clinical trials are underway, is likely to be rolled out.

Perceived as a game changer in the battle against the virus, the vaccine from the makers of Covaxin promises to deliver multiple benefits, from being more effective, since it is expected to generate immune responses at the site of infection (respiratory mucosa) to ease of administration and production. “It is also easy to scale it up... can produce 100 million doses a month,” Mr. Ella told a FICCI Capital Markets Conference.

The company is also awaiting permission to conduct clinical trials using a combination of Covaxin and the nasal vaccine doses to vaccinate. “We have applied for clinical [trial] permission,” he said, adding once the combination gets approved it could be a game changer. In September, Bharat Biotech had announced a licensing agreement with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for the ‘novel chimp adenovirus’, single dose intranasal vaccine for COVID-19.

On Covaxin, Mr. Ella said manufacturing of the inactivated vaccine, unlike the vector or MRNA vaccines, was challenging. However, Bharat Biotech’s existing BSL-3 production facilities -- which are required to make inactivated vaccines helped it overcome the challenge. Noting that safety profile of Covaxin was the best, Mr. Ella said clinical trial of the vaccine for children between the age of 2-18 years was nearing completion.

He asserted the possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 in India will be determined by the people’s behaviour or in other words their conforming to COVID-19 appropriate guidelines. “My feeling is until Deepavali if no epidemic comes we are through as a country. Also with different vaccines coming, we can take care of the society at large. We are well geared up now... there was a little delay but now we have caught up...,” he said, expecting everyone in India to be vaccinated by March next year.

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