Tata to launch Covid – 19 vaccine in partnership with Moderna in India

Saturday February 13, 2021 at 9:25 pm

Mumbai: A recently developed subsidiary of Tata Sons, Tata Medical & Diagnostics, is likely to start a preliminary discussion with Moderna, a US-based company, for a partnership in launching Covid – 19 vaccine in India. Officials in close contact with the development reported that in order to carry out clinical trials of Moderna’s vaccine candidate in India, Tata is expected to team up with the government’s key R & D organization, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.

Before the launch of the products in the country, the foreign vaccine companies should conduct a bridging trial in India. The foreign companies should conduct phase-3 – 3 trials with Indian volunteers in spite of the vaccines getting approved outside India. For the sake of the development of its mRNA vaccine against Covid – 19, Moderna has received a fund from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a part of the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization, in January 2020. The sole aim of this COVAX facility is to equally distribute 2 billion Covid – 19 vaccine doses in low and middle-income group countries including India by the end of this year.

The top officials reported that exploratory talks have begun in between Tata Medical & Diagnostics and Moderna and a final plan shall be made concrete once the government approves of the private sector participation. Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Tata Sons remained unresponsive to the mails sent from ET.

Officials reported that amidst the pandemic, Tata Medical & Diagnostics was set up in the month of June and its intention was to capture the country’s Covid – 19 health requirements in the devices and formulations space. A top group official stated, “The requirement for vaccines in India will be huge and the Tata Group has a strong brand equity in the country to gain people’s trust and confidence by following approved guidelines for vaccines”.

The private companies are waiting for the government’s nod on the manner of role they can play in the nation’s globally largest vaccine programme. Serum Institute of India for the vaccine developed by the University of Oxgord and AstraZeneca, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, and Biological E for Johnson & Johnson candidate are the companies in the country that has been internationally tied – up for testing and supplying Covid – 19 vaccines. Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila and Hetero Biopharma are the domestic companies that are working to develop or produce vaccine formulations. By signing up with the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, CSIR’s constituent lab, Tata Medical & Diagnostics has begun in the Covid – 19 space.

There is no separate tie-up of Moderna with Indian manufacturers as of now. Its first supply is intended to governments that had ordered their vaccines beforehand. Countries including the US, Canada and the UK shall be receiving the vaccine made by the US company. The same Mrna technology that is used by US drug manufacturer, Pfizer is also used by Moderna, although a storage temperature of – 25 degrees Celsius is required in comparison to -70 degrees Celsius for the Pfizer product. There has been no advance sign of agreement made by India with any global or domestic vaccine makers.