10 Feb 2021: Biological E aiming for 600 million J&J vaccine doses annually
Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm Biological E Ltd. is reportedly looking to contract-manufacture 600 million annual doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.
This would be in addition to the billion doses that Biological E is targeting for its own potential vaccine, which is currently undergoing clinical trials in India.
India has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to two vaccines—Covishield and COVAXIN—so far.
Details: Targeting 600 million doses for J&J: Biological E MD
Mahima Datla—Managing Director & CEO, Vaccines & Branded Formulations, Biological E—told Reuters, "We are targeting 600 million doses for J&J."
Datla said it was not clear when they could start production.
This will be in addition to Biological E's own vaccine candidate, developed with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and US-based Dynavax Technologies Corp. Late-stage testing is scheduled to begin in April.
Fact: Will Biological E help J&J run a local study?
Datla, however, declined to comment on whether Biological E would help J&J run a small local safety and immunogenicity study in India for its vaccine. Such studies, referred to as bridging studies, are often sought for foreign vaccines in India.
Vaccine: How does J&J's vaccine work?
J&J's vaccine uses a common cold virus, adenovirus type 26, to ferry coronavirus proteins into cells in the body.
This causes the body to generate an immune response against the virus.
The single-shot vaccine has been found 66% effective in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease.
A panel of the US Food and Drug Administration will convene on February 26 to review J&J's request for EUA.
Vaccination drive: Over 66 lakh health, frontline workers vaccinated
India had launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with Covishield and COVAXIN.
Thus far, over 66 lakh healthcare and frontline workers have been inoculated as part of the first phase of the vaccination drive.
India aims to vaccinate 300 million (30 crore) people by August.
The country is looking at more vaccine candidates, particularly indigenous ones, to vaccinate more people.
Outbreak: How bad is the outbreak in India?
According to the Union Health Ministry, India reported a total of 1,08,58,371 COVID-19 cases till Wednesday morning, recording 11,067 fresh cases over a 24-hour period.
India has reported the world's second-highest number of infections for any country.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,05,61,608 people have recovered from COVID-19, while 1,41,511 infections remain active.
The death toll has now climbed to 1,55,252.