Data from human trials of India’s first homegrown mRNA vaccine against coronavirus are likely to be presented to authorities for evaluation by the end of the month, and company officials are aiming to roll out the product before April.
- The mRNA vaccine being developed by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals is currently in phase 2/3 trials to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine in healthy subjects. Around 4,000 volunteers have been recruited for the trial.
- India has so far approved at least six vaccines that can be manufactured locally but only two — Covishield and Covaxin — have been administered to over 99% Indians.
- Globally, mRNA vaccines have been at the vanguard of inoculation programmes in the U.S. and Europe because they exploit recent advances in molecular biotechnology and are said to be quicker to manufacture than older, well-established vaccine design principles.
- A limitation of the mRNA vaccines, or those made by Pfizer and Moderna, was that they were required to be stored in sub-zero conditions — a tough proposition in a country where such a degree of refrigeration is limited in availability.
- However, the prospective Gennova vaccine can be stored in ordinary refrigerators, the makers of Gennova have claimed earlier.
- The mRNA vaccine, can also purportedly be tweaked to be effective against newer variants, but so far, all the vaccines developed — including the prospective Gennova vaccine — have been customised to the original SARS-CoV-2.