Government Finalises Pact for 300 m Doses of Biological E Vaccine

The government said it has “finalised arrangements” with Hyderabad-based Biological E to reserve 300 million doses of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate for domestic use.

Biological E’s vaccine candidate is an RBD protein sub-unit developed in association with Baylor College of Medicine, US. It is in the phase-3 clinical trial stage, the health ministry said in a statement, adding that it has shown promising results in phases 1 and 2. The government will make an advance payment of ₹1,500 crore to Biological E for its vaccine doses, the ministry said.

The development comes days after the Centre said it would finish its Covid-19 vaccination exercise by December this year. India is currently using two vaccines in its vaccination drive — AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Sputnik V from Russia is also being used in private setups.

Biological E’s vaccine candidate could be available in the next few months if it clears phase-3 clinical trial. The doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by the vaccine maker from August to December 2021, the ministry said. The company had received clearance from the Central Drugs and Standards Control Organisation in April to conduct a phase-3 clinical trial.

The company’s proposal was examined and recommended for approval by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, or NEGVAC, the statement said. Biological E has also signed agreements with two foreign companies to make their vaccines in India.

On Tuesday, the company said it has entered into an agreement with Providence Therapeutics Holdings, a Canada-based company, to manufacture its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine candidate in India.

Biological E has also signed a deal with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine. In April, the Centre had given advance payment to vaccine makers SII and Bharat Biotech for their vaccines that were to be bought over the next few weeks.

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