Hyderabad: Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) announced that iNCOVACC (BBV154), has received approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under restricted use in an emergency situation for ages 18 and above, in India, for heterologous booster doses.
iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilised SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phases I, II and III clinical trials with successful results. The vaccine 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.
The vaccine 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.
Dr Rajesh S Gokhale, Secretary, DBT, and Chairperson, BIRAC, lauded the efforts of the scientific community and said, “DBT is fostering biotech enterprises & innovation ecosystem and strategically strengthening Indian bioeconomy. DBT, along with BIRAC, is dedicated to the development of effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines under Mission COVID Suraksha. The DCGI’s approval of Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine iNCOVACC (BBV154) to be used as a heterologous booster dose against currently available COVID-19 vaccines is a moment of great pride for our country. This move will further strengthen our collective fight against the pandemic and broaden vaccine coverage.”
Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, said, “iNCOVACC, is an intranasal vaccine for the primary 2-dose schedule, and heterologous booster dose. iNCOVACC has been designed for efficient distribution, easy and pain-free administration.”
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.
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.
“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, The Herbert S Gasser Professor, Departments of Medicine, Molecular Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology, Washington University, St Louis who co-developed the nasal vaccine technology with colleague David T Curiel, Professor, Radiation Oncology, Washington University, St Louis. “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 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.
iNCOVACC has the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant-specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery that enables mass immunisation 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.
The vaccine is stable at 2-8°C for easy storage and distribution.