In what seems a one-of-its-kind public-private partnership (PPP), an agreement was signed on Saturday, March 26th, between the government and vaccine-maker Bharat Biotech’s founder Dr Krishna Ella, for the development and commercialisation of two crucial vaccines – Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and a malaria Vaccine. The vaccines are to be made by Bharat Biotech founder Dr Krishna Ella’s unit in Odisha called Sapigen Biologix Private Limited.
According to a release by the Press Information Bureau, the Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh was speaking at the ceremony to sign an Agreement between the Technology Development Board (TDB) of the Ministry of Science & Technology and Sapigen Biologix Private Limited, Hyderabad, helmed by Dr Krishna Ella of Bharat Biotech Ltd for development & commercialization of two novel vaccines – “Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine”. The different letters of the English alphabet used for naming the vaccines are essentially to convey that it is meant to act against the deadliest malaria parasite, mostly found in Africa.
Bharat Biotech founder Dr Krishna Ella also agreed to give ₹200 crore to form a Rs 400-crore corpus fund for ensuring sustainable StartUps. TDB will also contribute ₹200 crore for the creation of the fund, according to the release.
Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, said that this initiative will ensure equal stake with equal partnership and responsibility for the Industry for sustainable StartUps.
Bharat Biotech aims to set up a state-of-the art cGMP facility in Bhubaneswar, in compliance with latest global standards, for manufacturing Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and (RTS, S) Malaria Vaccine initially and later expand the product portfolio by adding other vaccines.
The company aims to produce 100 million doses/annum of intranasal Covid-19 vaccine by April 2023 and 15 million doses/ annum RTS, S Malaria vaccine by the end of April 2025.
The two vaccines to be developed and commercialised are:-
A: Nasal Coronavirus vaccine: In contrast to the Intramuscular (IM) coronavirus vaccine currently in use, the intra nasal vaccine can generate mucosal immune response thereby protecting both the upper and lower respiratory system of a vaccinated individual and break the cycle of infection and transmission. The present project uses the technology platform developed by Washington University, School of Medicine in St Louis for the SARS-COV-2 chimpanzee adenovirus in inactivate or killed virus form.
B: RTS, S Malaria Vaccine: In view of the public health potential, World Health Organization WHO’s top advisory bodies for malaria and immunization have jointly recommended phased introduction of the vaccine in selected areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Three countries – Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi – began introducing the vaccine in selected areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in 2019. Vaccinations are being provided through each country’s routine immunization program. As per the forecast of GAVI, the demand for malaria vaccine would be 75 million doses by 2035.
Both the Vaccines are novel and will come under the ambit of commercial production for the first time, the release says.