Meet the minds behind Covaxin and vaccines against Zika, Chikungunya

By: |
January 4, 2021 11:34 AM

An alumnus of University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr Krishna, has worked with the Medical University of South California before starting his own firm in 1996

An email sent to Bharat Biotech about the delivery schedule of Covaxin evoked a "no comments" response.An email sent to Bharat Biotech about the delivery schedule of Covaxin evoked a "no comments" response.

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin received the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) nod for emergency use in India. The team of scientists behind this herculean project included Dr Krishna Ella, a research scientist in molecular biology and founder of Bharat Biotech, the vaccine and bio-therapeutics manufacturer that is behind India’s first indigenously made Covid-19 vaccine and Dr Sumanthy K, the mastermind behind developing vaccines for Chikungunya and Zika for the company.

An alumnus of University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Hawaii at Manoa, Dr Krishna, has worked with the Medical University of South California before starting his own firm in 1996 and now has a strength of thousand employees. Before Covaxin, Bharat Biotech has developed vaccines for multiple diseases like H1N1, Chikungunya, Zika, Rotavirus, Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. World’s first tetanus-toxoid conjugated vaccine for Typhoid was also developed by its team of researchers.

Covaxin was developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)and National Institute of Virology (NIV). The vaccine received DCGI approval for Phase I and phase II Human Clinical Trials will the trials taking place across India in July 2020. The Phase III trials were held with 26,000 participants at 25 centres across India. After DGCI’s approval, Dr Krishna said, “The approval of Covaxin for emergency use is a giant leap for innovation and novel product development in India. It is a proud moment for the nation and a great milestone in India’s scientific capability, a kickstart to the innovation ecosystem in India. While this vaccine addresses an unmet medical need during this pandemic, our goal is to provide global access to populations that need it the most.”

Born in a Tamil household, Dr Krishna is also part of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Union Cabinet, Member- Governing Body, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Member- Technology, Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council (TIFAC). and Board of Visitors of the Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr Krishnan is also the founder of Biovet and Innova Food Park.

Dr Sumathy, the head of Bharat Biotech’s Research and development team has a PhD in Life Sciences from the JNU and Commonwealth scholarship from University College, London and IISc, Bangalore. Other team members behind Covaxin are Dr Krishna’s son Dr raches Ella who also is the author of publications regarding the immunogenicity and safety of Covaxin. He has earlier been the lead scientist in data analysis and manuscript preparation of Typhoid conjugate, Rotavirus vaccines. He is also the Project Lead for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and head of Business Development at Bharat Biotech. Dr. Raches is a Postdoctoral Fellow at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine developed and manufactured in the company’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment facility. Bharat Biotech has 140 global patents to its name and a product portfolio of more than 16 vaccine

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