Hyderabad based Sapigen Biologix Pvt. Ltd. has entered into a partnership with the Technology Development Board (TDB) of the Ministry of Science & Technology to develop and commercialise two vaccines - intranasal Covid-19 vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine – in India. Sapigen is the subsidiary of Biovet Pvt Ltd, promoted by Dr Krishna Ella of Bharat Biotech Ltd.

Under the agreement, TDB and Bharat Biotech will put in ₹200 crore each to create a continuous corpus of ₹400 crore for the partnership project. Sapigen will set up a state-of-the art cGMP facility in Bhubaneswar, in compliance with latest global standards, for manufacturing the two vaccines initially and later expand the product portfolio by adding other vaccines.

Commenting on the initiative, Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology said India's vaccine strategy which brings together pharma, industry and academia in a partnership with an eye on meeting the current as well as possible future challenges of India symbolises Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

The minister said that the initiative is not only an agreement of equal stake and partnership but also equal social responsibility. He termed it as a new beginning in India's vaccine strategy and expressed hope that it will give further impetus to research and development in the country.

Unlike the intramuscular (IM) coronavirus vaccine currently in use, the intra nasal vaccine that is to be developed through the partnership can generate mucosal immune response, thereby protecting both the upper and lower respiratory system of a vaccinated individual and break the cycle of infection and transmission. The present 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.

The second vaccine is targeting to address the demand for malaria vaccine, forecasted to be 75 million doses by 2035. It is being developed through an exclusive licence from GSK with exclusive manufacturing and distribution rights for the developing world. 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.

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