India is vying to create domestic mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, with Gennova Bio (Maharashtra) emerging as a frontrunner. The company’s investigational HGCO19 vaccine will be the focus of a Phase 2/3 study.
The vaccine, developed in collaboration with privately-held Seattle-based HDT Bio, has received funding from India’s Department of Biotechnology and Ministry of Science and Technology.
Lyophilized (freeze-dried) HGCO19 has less stringent storage requirements than the vaccines from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna (NSDQ:MRNA), making it a better fit for developing nations.
Gennova’s experimental vaccine is also unique in that it uses self-amplifying mRNA in place of the non-replicating mRNA found in vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Gennova aims to win emergency use authorization for the vaccine candidate in India by the end of the year.
India has also approved a DNA-based vaccine from Zydus Cadila (NSE:CADILAHC) known as ZyCoV-D.
mRNA quickly came to dominate the vaccine landscape in many parts of the world.
But a handful of companies, namely Pfizer/BioNTech (NSDQ:BNTX) and Moderna, control the mRNA vaccine landscape.
CureVac aimed to enter the fray with its own mRNA vaccine, but its hopes were dashed when a Phase 3 study found its first COVID-19 vaccine had an efficacy of less than 50%.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced his support for establishing India as a provider of mRNA vaccines.
India is home to the Serum Institute of India, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. The country is also home to one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical industries.
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