As coronavirus cases rise globally, the race for developing a vaccine is also picking pace. The latest company to announce a vaccine candidate is Bharat Biotech. The Hyderabad-based vaccine major's vaccine candidate COVAXIN has received permission for advancing to human trials. According to the firm, it is "India's first vaccine candidate for COVID-19, developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - National Institute of Virology (NIV)". Human clinical trials are scheduled to begin across India in July.
As per the company note, the SARS-CoV-2 strain was isolated in NIV, Pune and transferred to Bharat Biotech. "The indigenous, inactivated vaccine was developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech's BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) High Containment facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad, India," it added.
The results from the pre-clinical trials have also been promising, the company said. "The proactive support and guidance from CDSCO have enabled approvals to this project. Our R&D and Manufacturing teams worked tirelessly to deploy our proprietary technologies towards this platform," said Chairman and Managing Director, Krishna Ella.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 16 vaccine candidates currently in late-stage clinical trials among the 140 vaccines in different stages of development to fight COVID-19. Of these 16 vaccine candidates, five are being researched in China, three in the US, two in the UK, and one each in Australia, Germany, and Russia.
Among the few to have managed to reach advanced stages of trials, Moderna, which is entering Phase III of its trials in July for its mRNA-based vaccine, is optimistic of receiving FDA approval.
WHO has even identified the candidates developed by Oxford University - AstraZeneca and Moderna Inc as front-runners. Moderna has signed a deal with Catalent for large-scale manufacturing of its vaccine candidate. Catalent will provide vial filling and packaging capacity as well as additional workforce required for 24X7 manufacturing operations. Catalent is already in partnership with Johnson and Johnson as well as AstraZeneca.
Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Inovio, Sinovac, CanSino are some of the other companies to have made significant progress.