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

CoroFlu will be based on FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate M2SR, said to be a self-limiting formulation of the influenza virus that triggers an immune response against the infection.

Researchers at UW­Madison will incorporate SARS-CoV-2 gene sequences into M2SR to create a vaccine that could generate immunity against the novel coronavirus.

Similar to M2SR, CoroFlu will be administered intranasally with an aim to induce multiple immune responses.

FluGen co-founder Gabriele Neumann said: “We are going to modify M2SR by adding part of the coding region for the coronavirus spike protein that the virus uses to latch onto cells and begin infection.

“CoroFlu will also express the influenza virus hemagglutinin protein, which is the major influenza virus antigen, so we should get immune responses to both coronavirus and influenza.”

CoroFlu should complete laboratory testing in the next three to six months and enter human clinical trials in the second half of this year.

Improvements to the vaccine’s design and laboratory testing in animal models will take place at UW–Madison.

Meanwhile, India-based Bharat Biotech will begin to scale up for safety and efficacy testing in trials, conduct the human studies and make preparations for production at a global scale.