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Last Updated : Aug 14, 2020 01:42 PM IST | Source: PTI

COVID-19 vaccine: Aurobindo Pharma expects phase-I, II trials by end of 2020

Managing Director of Aurobindo Pharma, Narayanan Govindarajan in the recently held earnings call with analysts said the city-based pharma major has earmarked USD 150-200 million towards capex during the current fiscal.

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Aurobindo Pharma has said it is expecting its proposed vaccine candidate for COVID-19 to undergo Phase I and II trials by the end of 2020, while Phase III may be undertaken during March-April next year.

Managing Director of Aurobindo Pharma, Narayanan Govindarajan in the recently held earnings call with analysts said the city-based pharma major has earmarked USD 150-200 million towards capex during the current fiscal.

He said the vaccine for COVID-19 is being developed by Profectus BioSciences Inc in US, which was acquired by AurobindoPharmas subsidiary Auro Vaccines LLC.

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According to Govindarajan, the company's viral vaccine manufacturing capacity in India would be undertaken in two phases. The first phase would be ready by October and the commercial facility by March, next year.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"So on the VSV platform, they (Auro Vaccines) arealready developing a COVID-19 vaccine as well and we are creating the capacity in India wherein there are two phases of capacity. The first set of capacity would be ready by October, where we would like to make the product and start the Phase-I and Phase-II by the end of the year."

"And our commercial facility, we are aiming to get it ready by around March-April timeline where we would like to make the product for even the Phase III trials. That is the timeline for the COVID-19 vaccine based on our current assumptions," Govindarajan said replying to a query on the vaccine.

Aurobindo Pharma is working on developing several viral vaccines including one for COVID-19 even as the candidate was approved for funding by the Department of BioTechnology, the company said in its annual report.

The COVID-19 vaccine candidate underwent an evaluation by BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council,Department of BioTechnology) and was shortlisted for funding initial development, the company had said.

Asked about the capex projections, Govindarajan said, "But for the current year, we still believe it should be in the range of USD150 million to USD 200 million (of capex)."
First Published on Aug 14, 2020 01:27 pm
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