India-based pharmaceutical company Biological E has signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) unit Janssen Pharmaceutica to manufacture J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2.S.

Under the deal, Biological E will boost production capacities for drug substance and drug product of the vaccine candidate currently in Phase I / IIa clinical trials.

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Biological E novel vaccine initiative head and BioE Holdings director Narender Dev Mantena said: “We look forward to deploying our manufacturing infrastructure to support Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to global access for its Covid-19 vaccine.”

Biological E also entered a licensing agreement with Baylor College of Medicine to develop an affordable Covid-19 vaccine.

Following licence negotiations with the BCM Ventures, a part of Baylor College, the company received a licence to the recombinant protein Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed at Baylor.

The company intends to leverage its experience to develop and commercialise the vaccine candidate, currently generated using a yeast-based expression technology.

At present, the partners are working to transfer the technology to Biological E, which will begin scale-up of the manufacturing and develop the vaccine candidate.

Biological E managing director Mahima Datla said: “The partnership with Baylor would help accelerate the development of an affordable vaccine, especially for India and other low and middle-income nations.”

In a separate development, J&J concluded its exploratory discussions with the European Commission (EC) to provide its Covid-19 vaccine candidate to the EU member states.

EC will now enter contract negotiations with Janssen Pharmaceutica to obtain 200 million doses of Ad26.COV2.S and may also choose to procure up to an additional 200 million doses.

Earlier this month, Janssen signed an agreement with the US Government for the large scale domestic production and supply of 100 million doses of Ad26.COV2.S. The country committed to providing more than $1bn for this deal.