Bharat Biotech aims to make 1 bn nasal vaccines in 2022

Bharat Biotech aims to manufacture 1 billion nasal vaccines in 2022: Report

The company has currently sought permission for Phase-3 clinical trials after conducting trials to judge the protection levels in conjunction with intramuscular jabs

Trials of a nasal vaccine under way. Credit: PTI Photo

Bharat Biotech has set a target of producing around one billion doses of an intranasal vaccine — currently under trials — in 2022. Bharat Biotech is also the producer of Covaxin Covid-19 vaccine jabs.

Bharat Biotech claims that the vaccine cuts the transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by attacking it at the point of entry, i.e., the nose and upper respiratory tract. “We are scaling up manufacturing of the intranasal vaccine now. The target is a billion annual doses for the nasal vaccine. The sites, which make Covaxin now (Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune), will also have facilities to make the nasal vaccine,” a senior company executive told Business Standard.

The intranasal vaccine, termed BBV154, is a nasal spray that needs to be administered in a clinical setting. Clarifying that it cannot be taken at home, the publication said that the adenovirus vector-based vaccine helps trigger generation of IgA antibodies that line the nasal mucosa.

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The executive told the publication that it is a live adenovirus vector platform that is similar to the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. “We have done a lot of work to stabilise the spike protein. The antibodies in the nose are IgA, which are also present in the upper respiratory tract,” the executive was quoted as saying in the report.

Besides manufacturing vaccines, the company is also looking for global partners for vaccine distribution.

Bharat Biotech is also likely to start the Phase-3 trials of the vaccine — to be used as a booster for those who have had Covid-19 or received two vaccine jabs — having sought permission for the same.  “We are not considering an efficacy trial right now, because many people are either seropositive or vaccinated. So mostly, we are testing the safety, immunogenicity and specifically as a booster dose (after any vaccine). The trial protocol would be designed accordingly,” the company executive told the publication.

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Over three legs, in combination with Covaxin jabs, the company has already conducted Phase-2 trials for the intranasal vaccine to decipher the best combination for a long-lasting immune response. 

Jacob John, former head of Centre for Advanced Research in Virology at the Indian Council of Medical Research said, according to the publication, that to have a nasal vaccine is a “fantastic idea” for two reasons. Firstly, it can potentially create sterile immunity and secondly, it is easy to administer, and thus, scalable, John said.

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