On its mRNA platform, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Pune-based firm Emcure Pharmaceuticals, is developing a Covid-19 vaccine that will target the Omicron variety, which is causing the country’s third coronavirus infection epidemic.
The company intends to use it as a booster shot for those who have received two jabs of a primary Covid-19 vaccine.
“We are completing the necessary processes and will soon approach the office of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for carrying out clinical trials of the booster shot of mRNA vaccine,” Sanjay Singh, CEO of Gennova, told ET. “mRNA technology provides a high degree of flexibility, speed and specificity to produce a variant-specific vaccine compared to other traditional platforms.”
The heterologous booster trial will be conducted on people who have got two shots of Covid-19 vaccines Covaxin or Covishield, said Singh.
Omicron is in community transmission in India and has become the dominant variant in multiple metros, INSACOG, the genomic consortium, had said in January.
As reported by ET earlier, in the fourth week of December, Omicron was found in 50% of the samples sent for genomic sequencing. In the second and third weeks of January, it was 90-95%.
“Variant-specific vaccines are hence important,” a senior government official said.
Gennova is hopeful of introducing the vaccine soon.
“It’s a single shot and participants will be given the booster shot 28 days after the primary dose, which means it won’t take much time in getting the eligible participants for testing the mRNA booster,” the official said.
Gennova had said earlier that its Covid-19 mRNA vaccine will not require sub-zero temperature for storage, a feature that would make its rollout in India easy. The mRNA Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna need sub-zero temperature.
Gennova is also working on an mRNA platform-based primary Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine candidate is moving well through phase 3 trials and the company will soon approach the drug regulator for emergency use authorisation (EUA).