Bharat Biotech launches nasal vaccine iNCOVACC

iNCOVACC will be the world’s first COVID-19 booster dose. It will give India more options to choose from when it comes to third doses or precautionary doses

NEW DELHI | Updated: 26 January, 2023 4:54 pm IST
Union Health minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya and Union Science and Technology minister  Jitendra Singh launched India’s first intranasal vaccine, iNCOVACC, on January 26

In a major boost in the fight against COVID, Union Health minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya and Union Science and Technology minister Jitendra Singh launched India’s first intranasal vaccine, iNCOVACC, on January 26.

The vaccine was developed by Bharat Biotech, a global leader in vaccine innovation. It will be available to the government for ₹325 per dose, while it will cost ₹800 at private hospitals.

“The launch of iNCOVACC is an important milestone in the efforts of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” Dr Mandaviya said. “India contributes 65 percent of the world’s vaccine. In the global dialogue, India’s manufacturing, research and innovation capabilities are admired around the world. “India will not only be known as the world’s pharmacy; it will also be known for research and innovation,” Dr Mandaviya added.

India, a natural collaborator, has taken the lead. We have a legacy of dealing with communicable diseases,” Dr Singh said. “The nasal vaccine will be a huge success. With our expertise and diligence, it will be a success story,” he said.

Product development and clinical trials for iNCOVACC were funded in part by the Government of India, through the Department of Biotechnology’s, COVID Suraksha Program.

Bharat Biotech received approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for iNCOVACC to be administered for primary series and as heterologous booster doses.

Amid growing COVID-19 cases and emerging variants of the highly transmissible virus, a booster dose of the vaccine becomes imperative.

iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilised spike protein. This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phases I, II and III clinical trials with successful results.

This 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. As a needleless vaccination, Bharat Biotech’s iNCOVACC will be the world’s first such booster dose. India will now have more options when it comes to third doses or precautionary doses.

Dr Krishna Ella, executive chairman of Bharat Biotech, said, “With the rollout of iNCOVACC today, we have achieved our goal of establishing a novel vaccine delivery platform for intranasal delivery. It proves that India can innovate for itself and the world. We and the country are well prepared for future COVID-19 variants and future infectious diseases.”

Suchitra Ella, MD, Bharat Biotech, said, “It is exemplary that India has not only served herself during the pandemic challenges, but also been a strong provider to the global platform in distributing vaccines and medicines to over 150 countries. With iNCOVACC – the world’s 1st intranasal COVID vaccine, we are privileged to defend the nation’s health with global quality and scale.”

“It is exciting to see the deployment of iNCOVACC in India as a nasally-delivered vaccine and booster,” said Dr Michael S Diamond, MD, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, who co-developed the nasal vaccine technology with Washington University colleague Dr David T Curiel, MD, PhD.

“The continued waves of COVID-19 infection necessitate new strategies to overcome transmission. By generating immunity in the upper respiratory tract at the portal of entry of the virus, this vaccine has the potential to better limit the spread of the virus than other approaches. Washington University licenced the vaccine technology to Bharat in 2020 for further development,” he said.

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