Bharat Biotech and Thomas Jefferson partner on Covid-19 vaccine

20 May 2020 (Last Updated May 21st, 2020 05:10)

India-based Bharat Biotech has entered into an exclusive agreement to develop a new Covid-19 vaccine candidate created at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, US.

Bharat Biotech and Thomas Jefferson partner on Covid-19 vaccine
The new Covid-19 vaccine candidate was created using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for coronavirus proteins. Credit: pearson0612 from Pixabay.

India-based Bharat Biotech has entered into an exclusive agreement to develop a Covid-19 vaccine candidate created at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, US.

Infectious Diseases expert professor Matthias Schnell’s lab created the vaccine candidate in January using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for coronavirus proteins.

This approach, used as a vehicle or carrier vaccine, is known to generate a strong immune response, authorised for the whole population, including children and pregnant women.

In preliminary tests in animal models, the vaccine demonstrated a strong antibody response in mice. Currently, the researchers are evaluating if vaccinated animals are protected from Covid-19 infection and results are expected to be available next month.

Schnell noted: “Our partnership with Bharat Biotech will accelerate our vaccine candidate through the next phases of development. We will be able to complete animal testing and move to Phase I clinical trial rapidly.”

As part of the licence agreement, the company gets exclusive rights to develop, market and deliver Jefferson’s vaccine globally, excluding some countries such as the US, Europe and Japan, where Jefferson is seeking partners.

With the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology support, the company intends to advance the vaccine candidate into human trials as early as December this year.

Bharat Biotech CEO Dr Krishna Mohan said: “In view of the imminent demand for an effective vaccine, Bharat Biotech is pleased to collaborate with Thomas Jefferson, USA towards developing a new vaccine for Covid-19 using an inactivated rabies vector platform.

“Bharat Biotech is committed to global public health and will be involved in an end to end development of the vaccine including comprehensive clinical trials to achieve commercial licensure.”

Last month, Bharat Biotech partnered with FluGen and the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UWMadison) to develop and evaluate a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CoroFlu.