In a bid to locally make raw materials for biotherapeutics and vaccines, Bharat Biotech International, along with two other companies, on March 29 tied up with the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT).
Bharat Biotech signed a master collaborative agreement with Biovet and Sapigen Biologix. Under the agreement, all the firms would provide necessary financial support to CSIR-IICT for developing key raw materials, reported Mint.
Apart from providing financial support, the firms would also perform in vitro and in vivo studies for further development of potential vaccine candidates. They will also conduct research work together to design bio-therapeutic formulations.
“The US has put restrictions on some raw materials. It can’t be exported to other countries… Actually, we are not able to get one of the raw materials we need from the US and Sweden. A lot of restrictions are coming in but we need to anticipate this sort of thing in future. That is one of the reasons why we decided to partner," the business daily quoted Bharat Biotech chairman Krishna Ella as saying.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Ella further elaborated that the tie-up between the firms is not only to develop COVID-19 vaccines and bio-therapeutics but also for the development of other vaccines. The tie-up would also ensure the development of platforms such as inactivated and messenger RNA vaccines.
Adding more, Ella emphasised the importance of tie-up as it would promote domestic manufacturing of raw materials such as beta propiolactone and thimerosal, which are both imported from Germany.Currently, Bharat Biotech uses beta propiolactone to inactivate the novel coronavirus in its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin. It also uses thimerosal as a preservative.