Bharat Biotech’s Intranasal COVID-19 vaccine gets CDSCO approval


Representational image. AP

New Delhi: Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) on Monday announced that iNCOVACC® (BBV154), which is the world’s first Intranasal vaccine for COVID has received approval for the primary 2-dose schedule, and the heterologous booster dose.

“iNCOVACC® is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phases I, II, and III clinical trials with successful results. iNCOVACC® has been specifically formulated to allow intranasal delivery through nasal drops. The nasal delivery system has been designed and developed to be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries,” it said.

iNCOVACC® was developed in partnership with Washington University, St. Louis, which had designed and developed the recombinant adenoviral vectored construct and evaluated in preclinical studies for efficacy.

“Product development related to preclinical safety evaluation, large-scale manufacturing scale up, formulation and delivery device development, including human clinical trials were conducted by Bharat Biotech. Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the Government of India, through the Department of Biotechnology’s, COVID Suraksha Program,” it said.

Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, said, “iNCOVACC®️, is an intranasal vaccine for the primary 2-dose schedule, and heterologous booster dose. This is a great achievement for us and the global scientific community to enable nasal administration of COVID vaccines. Despite the lack of demand for COVID vaccines, we continued product development in intranasal vaccines to ensure that we are well-prepared with platform technologies for future infectious diseases. We thank the Ministry of Health, CDSCO, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Technology Development Board, and Washington University, St. Louis, for their support and guidance. iNCOVACC®️ has been designed for efficient distribution, easy and pain-free administration. We have also initiated development of variant-specific vaccines for COVID for future preparedness.”

iNCOVACC Clinical trials & Immunogenicity

Clinical trials were conducted to evaluate iNCOVACC as a primary dose schedule, and as heterologous booster dose for subjects who have previously received two doses of the two commonly administered COVID vaccines in India, Bharat Biotech said in a statement.

“Immunogenicity was evaluated through serum neutralizing antibodies by PRNT assays and serum IgG’s through ELISA’s. To evaluate vaccine, taken through the intranasal route, IgA’s were evaluated by ELISA in serum and saliva. Evaluation was also carried out for ability iNCOVACC® to elicit long-term memory T and B cell responses against the ancestral and omicron variants,” it said.

“We are excited by the expansion of the EUA for iNCOVACC® as a booster, which enables this intranasal vaccine to be used by many more people, and hopefully curtail transmission,” said Michael S. Diamond, MD, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, who co-developed the nasal vaccine technology with Washington University colleague David Curiel, MD, PhD.

“This approval will increase the options for people to get vaccinated and protected against the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the ongoing pandemic.”

Washington University licensed the vaccine technology to Bharat Biotech in 2020 for further development.

iNCOVACC Safety, Storage & Distribution

iNCOVACC®; was evaluated to determine its impact on safety. The reactogenic events and adverse events that were documented during the trial were highly comparable to published data from other Covid-19 vaccines. Product development data will be submitted to peer reviewed journals and will be made available in the public domain, the company said.

iNCOVACC®; is stable at 2-8°C for easy storage and distribution. Bharat Biotech has established large manufacturing capabilities at multiple sites across India, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana, with operations pan India.

iNCOVACC®; has the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant-specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery that enables mass immunization to protect from emerging variants of concern. It promises to become an important tool in mass vaccinations during pandemics and endemics. With the receipt of this approval, launch dates, pricing and availability will be announced in due course of time.

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