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Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday partnered with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) to develop a fully indigenous vaccine for coronavirus.

According to a statement issued by the ICMR, the team will use the virus strain isolated at ICMR's National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.

"The strain has been successfully transferred from NIV to Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL). Work on vaccine development has been initiated between the two partners. ICMR-NIV will provide continuous support to BBIL for vaccine development. ICMR and BBIL will seek fast-track approvals to expedite vaccine development, subsequent animal studies and clinical evaluation of the candidate vaccine," read the statement.

According to the Union Health Ministry data, India has so far reported 59,662 Covid-19 cases of which 17,847 persons have been cured while 1,981 people have succumbed to the dreaded virus.

Bharat Biotech to lead project to develop human antibodies for COVID-19

Leading vaccine maker Bharat Biotech said it will lead CSIR-NMITLI supported project to develop human antibodies for COVID-19 therapy.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under its New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) has sanctioned a project to develop human monoclonal antibodies as therapy for COVID-19 infections.

The project will be led by Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based manufacturer of vaccines and bio-therapeutics which exports its products to over 65 countries.

"We are fast-tracking the development process, to make the antibodies available within the next 6 months and thus improve the treatment efficacy," said Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech.

He said while both Israel and Netherlands recently announced the development of virus-neutralizing antibodies, their approach would be to develop a powerful cocktail of neutralizing antibodies that can also simultaneously block mutational variants of the virus.

This programme brings together National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune, Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, PredOmix Technologies and Bharat Biotech in a collaborative mode for a public health emergency.

Although efforts are underway for the development of drugs and vaccines for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, these are slow and expensive processes with uncertainties. Therefore, an alternate therapeutic regimen for early deployment is critical, Bharat Biotech said.

"The purpose of vaccination is to protect the healthy against future infections and it alone may not provide the complete solution. We feel the monoclonal antibody therapy will provide a viable option," said Dr. Ella.

"The question is of how to treat those individuals who are already infected? plus, we do not yet know how effective an anti-SARS-CoV2 vaccine will be in the elderly people and those with co-morbidities. Given the large number of Indians suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases, this becomes an important issue," he added.

(IANS)

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