The Technology Development Board (TDB), Ministry of Science & Technology, and Sapigen Biologix Pvt Ltd, an arm of Bharat Biotech International Ltd, have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development and commercialisation of an Intranasal Covid-19 vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine.

Under the agreement signed on Saturday, TDB and Bharat Biotech have pledged support of Rs 200 crore each to create a Rs 400-crore corpus for the development and commercialisation of Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine, according to a release issued by Sapigen Biologix.

“Both the vaccines are novel and will come under the ambit of commercial production for the first time,’‘ Sapigen Biologix said.

The Hyderabad-based company plans to set up a modern cGMP facility in Bhubaneswar, in compliance with the latest global standards, for manufacturing Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and (RTS, S) Malaria Vaccine initially and later expand the product portfolio by adding other vaccines.

In contrast to the Intramuscular (IM) corona virus vaccine currently in use, the intra nasal vaccine can generate mucosal immune response, thereby, protecting both the upper and lower respiratory system of a vaccinated individual. 

The project uses the technology platform developed by Washington University, School of Medicine in St Louis for the SARS-COV-2 chimpanzee adenovirus in inactivate or killed virus form.

RTS, S is a vaccine that acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and most prevalant in Africa.

In view of the public health potential, World Health Organization WHO’s top advisory bodies for malaria and immunisation have jointly recommended phased introduction of the vaccine in select areas of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi introduced the vaccine in select areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in 2019. Vaccinations are being provided through each country’s routine immunisation programme. According to the forecast of GAVI, the demand for malaria vaccine would be 75 million doses by 2035.

The company aims to produce 100 million doses/annum of intranasal Covid-19 vaccine by April 2023 and 15 million doses/annum RTS, S Malaria vaccine by the end of April 2025, according to the release.