Biological E to produce 600 mn doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine a year:

Interim data for Biological E’s own COVID-19 vaccine, still in clinical trials, is expected later this quarter.

Biological E to produce 600 mn doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine a year:

Vial of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Image: Johnson & Johnson

Hyderabad-based vaccine maker Biological E is looking at contract-manufacturing 60 crore doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine a year. A Reuters report cites a top official at Biological E saying that the company had entered into an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company, to make and enhance the manufacturing capacity for ingredients and products for J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The COVID-19 vaccine from J&J is a single-dose vaccine unlike Pfizer’s and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines. It can also be stored in a refrigerator, making it a viable option to vaccinate developing countries too, where cold storage conditions are not uniformly available.

“We are targeting 600 million doses for J&J,” said Mahima Datla, managing director of Biological E said today. “This will be in addition to our own product for which we are targeting approximately 1 billion doses.”

The J&J COVID-19 vaccine uses a common cold virus, adenovirus 26, to ferry instructions for making coronavirus proteins into cells and trigger an immune response, according to the Reuters report. It is currently under regulatory review in the US, where the company applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) this month. J&J expects to have a batch of the vaccine ready for distribution as soon as the EUA is granted, but hasn’t disclosed the number of doses it is manufacturing. The drugmaker, in a 29 January release, reported that the vaccine was 66 percent effective in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease, from a global Phase 2 clinical trial.

The single-dose shot will need to tested in India before it is given similar emergency by Indian regulators for use in India. So far, no details have been released about these bridging studies.

Biological E’s own COVID-19 vaccine is still in clinical trials. Interim data for the vaccine is expected later this quarter.

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