The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday announced that it has embarked on a research collaboration with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL) to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
The ICMR said in a statement that it had transferred the virus strain isolated at the National Institute of Virology, Pune (an ICMR institute) to BBIL.
“…Work on vaccine development has been initiated between the two partners. ICMR-NIV will provide continuous support to BBIL for vaccine development. ICMR and BBIL will seek fast-track approvals to expedite vaccine development, subsequent animal studies and clinical evaluation of the candidate vaccine, which will be fully indigenous to India,” the ICMR statement said, according to reports.
However, no further details were made available on whether any pre-clinical studies were done or the basis for which this appeared to be a promising step forward for successfully developing a vaccine.
Chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech Dr Krishna Ella was quoted in a statement, “We are very proud to participate in this project of national importance with ICMR and NIV. We will do everything to make this program successful in our nation endeavour to combat COVID-19 pandemic.”
Saturday’s announcement is BBIL’s third stated initiative in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.
On April 20, the Department of Biotechnology had announced funding support to the company to develop a vaccine candidate utilising the inactivated rabies vector platform.
On April 3, the company had said it was working on ‘CoroFlu’ a one-drop COVID-19 nasal vaccine built on a flu vaccine ‘backbone’ that had proven to be safe in humans.
For developing that vaccine, BBIL was part of an international collaboration of virologists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and vaccine companies FluGen.