Bharat Biotech Readying ForTuberculosis, Cholera Vaccines

Hyderabad: Bharat Biotech International (BBIL), which developed India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin and the world’s first nasal vaccine iNCOVACC against the same virus, is close to launching vaccines against Tuberculosis and Cholera. The company is also developing vaccines against diseases like Chikungunya, Malaria and Zika, Suchitra Ella, Managing Director and Co-Founder of BBIL tells Fortune India.

”Our cholera vaccine is ready and is going through the regulatory approval and licensing process. Similarly, we have exclusive technology transfer for a malaria vaccine and we’ll be making it again for the first time”, she says.

Bharat Biotech is developing a cholera vaccine, licenced from Hilleman Laboratories, a joint venture between MSD and UK-based Wellcome Trust, in 2019. It completed the Phase 3 trial at various locations in India in early 2023. In collaboration with Spanish biopharmaceutical company Biofabri, it is currently undertaking clinical trials in India of MTBVAC, a tuberculosis vaccine.

Bharat Biotech, which makes about 20 vaccines and 4-5 biotherapeutics, is also preparing to manufacture the world’s first malaria vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) after 30 years of research and development. In June 2021, GSK, PATH, and Bharat Biotech signed a product transfer agreement for the malaria vaccine.

MTBVAC is being developed as a more effective and potentially longer-lasting vaccine than BCG for newborns and for the prevention of TB disease in adults and adolescents, for whom there is currently no effective vaccine. The only vaccine in use today, BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Guérin), is an attenuated variant (weakened versions of virus or bacteria) of the bovine TB pathogen. It is more than a hundred years old and has a very limited effect on pulmonary tuberculosis, which is responsible for the transmission of the disease. MTBVAC is the first live attenuated vaccine of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolated from a human.

Suchitra Ella says BBIL has stopped production of the COVID-19 vaccines as done by other manufacturers worldwide. The production facilities created for the purpose can be refurbished to make other vaccines. The facilities can also quickly make newer versions of Covid-19 vaccines if the pandemic resurfaces with new mutated strains of the virus.

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