The novel vaccine was developed using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for coronanvirus proteins, according to Bharat Biotech. Earlier in April, the Hyderabad-based company had partnered with University of Wisconsin-Madison and US-based vaccine developer FluGen to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 called Coro-Flu.
The latest deal involves a vaccine candidate developed by infectious disease expert Matthias Schnell's lab in January this year. Recently tested on animals, the vaccine showed a strong antibody response in mice, according to the company.
The researchers are currently testing whether vaccinated animals are protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection, with results expected by next month, the company said.
"Our partnership with Bharat Biotech will accelerate our vaccine candidate through the next phases of development. We will be able to complete animal testing and move to phase-1 clinical trial rapidly," Schnell said.
Under the license agreement, Bharat Biotech will get exclusive rights to develop, market and deliver Jefferson's vaccine across the world excluding countries such as the US, Europe and Japan, where Jefferson continue to seek partners.
"In view of the imminent demand for an effective vaccine, Bharat Biotech is pleased to collaborate with Thomas Jefferson, USA towards developing a new vaccine for Covid-19 using an inactivated rabies vector platform. We are particularly excited about this technology since the basic proof of concept has been established while using it for other pandemic infectious diseases. Bharat Biotech is committed to global public health and will be involved in an end to end development of the vaccine including comprehensive clinical trials to achieve commercial licensure," Bharat Biotech chief executive officer Krishna Mohan said.
Of the 90-odd coronavirus vaccines in development, about 25 per cent use an established vaccine to act as a carrier or vector for the target virus, in this case, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.