Indian pharma companies can rework their vaccine products to combat the new variants of the virus

Thursday February 25, 2021 at 10:35 am
The Indian pharma companies, Bharat Biotech and Biological E hopes that they can in no time rework their Covid-19 vaccine products to fight against the new variants of the virus once their genetic sequence comes to the forefront.
In recent times, India has been sheltering the variants that were first noted in Brazil, Britain and South Africa, which in turn lead to the increase in the number of cases in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Kerala.
The deputy director-general of the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Nivedita Gupta has stated in the BioAsia conference, “As we are seeing a lot of resurgence of cases, we are picking up samples from hotspots and clusters and we are trying to sequence them”.
Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR is developing India’s first homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, which, along with another licensed from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, is used for the immunization campaign in the country and has covered more than 10 million people from the middle of January.
India claims to be the biggest producer of vaccines in the country and the companies are likely to manufacture billions of doses of the shots against coronavirus.
The Chairman of Bharat Biotech, Dr Krishna Ella has stated that his company is mainly waiting for the data from the ICMR or the World Health Organization on the genetic sequence of any variant in order to produce an effective vaccine soon.
At a conference, Ella remarked that a product to fight against the South African variant can be made within a time span of 15 days, which would require no change in the manufacturing procedure.
MD of Biological E, Mahima Datla is of the opinion that there was no need to be “overly concerned” about the mutations.
She further added, “Eventually we don’t know which variant of the virus, which mutants will take over, but we think that it’s prudent to work on technologies that address the new variants as well”.
Biological E in collaboration with Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine and Dynavax Technologies is working on a vaccine that has off late completed Phase ½ clinical trial in India.
The product makes use of the recombinant- protein technology where a harmless agent is used to stimulate an immune response in cells.
Datla, whose company shall contract-manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s Covid – 19 vaccine has concluded, “Once you know the variant, when it’s sequenced, it is fairly quick to deploy into a vaccine”.