NEW DELHI: Bharat Biotech is working on a combination of Covaxin followed by nasal vaccine which if administered can act as a booster dose and protect a person from getting infected, according to its chairman and managing director Dr Krishna Ella.
The company expects significant data on the combination in the next two months which can then drive the future course of action based on regulatory approvals and policy decision regarding booster shots.
“We are working on a combination of Covaxin followed by nasal, so that Covaxin primes the system of innate immunity and then the boost by the nasal which produces three immune responses — the IGG, the IGA and then mucosal immunity. All three immunities are powerful and can protect a person from getting infected,” Ella said at the Times Now India@75: The Freedom Summit.
Even as Covaxin is found to be significantly effective against the dominant Delta virus, the government will take the final call on whether there is a need for a third dose of Covaxin to enhance the immune response for a longer time, Ella said underlining that data will be submitted to the government. “I think we have done a booster dose also. We are waiting for the results, but if you recommend a booster dose, there will be a shortage of vaccine. So, it’s a complicated situation. We are therefore adopting an innovative method,” he said.
According to Ella, if the nasal vaccine works out well, production capacity is also likely to double. At present, Bharat Biotech is supplying around 2 — 2.5 crore doses of Covaxin per month, which is projected to increase to around 5.8 crore doses over the next few months.
Amid concerns about limited supply of Covaxin and a slow ramp up of production as compared to other anti-Covid jabs, Ella highlighted how manufacturing an inactivated vaccine and expanding production capacity is reasonably difficult as compared to other platforms.
“The mRNA vaccine can be produced with one of the easiest technologies in the world. You can produce in a week, and you can produce 20 million doses with mRNA. Coming to the adenovirus, which is a vector-based vaccine, I can manufacture in less than seven days. Whereas the same inactivated vaccine that we produce to be used in children, that can take 120 days to produce. The other two platforms, it is easy to scale up to 2,000 litres, 5,000 litres, whereas when it comes to inactivated vaccines, nobody has scaled up more than 1,000 litres in the world and we are the first company trying to scale it to 5,000 litres in our Bengaluru facility. People have not understood how complicated this technology is, and this is one of the oldest technologies and the best,” he said.
Ella also clarified that WHO approval for Covaxin got delayed as the company had to do efficacy trials separately and during the second wave, which involved cases of Delta variant.