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CEPI grants $14.1M to Bharat Biotech, IVI consortium to develop Chikungunya vaccine


CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, in collaboration with Ind-CEPI, has announced an agreement with a consortium comprising Bharat Biotech (BBIL) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to advance the development of a Chikungunya vaccine.

CEPI will fund the consortium with up to $14.1 million for vaccine manufacturing and clinical development of a two-dose live-inactivated vaccine (BBV87) against Chikungunya. This grant is supported by the European Union’s (EU’s) Horizon 2020 programme through an existing framework partnership agreement with CEPI.

The consortium will be further supported with a grant of up to $2 million from the government’s Ind-CEPI initiative which will fund the setup of GMP manufacturing facilities for the vaccine in India, and the subsequent manufacture of clinical trial materials.

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Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said, “Chikungunya continues to be a threat to public health in countries around the globe. It is a painful and debilitating disease for which there is no licensed vaccine or treatment. Through this partnership with Bharat Biotech and IVI, we will accelerate the clinical development of the Chikungunya vaccine candidate, with the aim of producing a vaccine and making it accessible to those most affected by the disease.”

In addition to manufacturing, the partnering agreement will finance a multi-centre Phase 2/3 adaptive clinical trial to be conducted by IVI in Colombia, Panama, and Thailand, which will provide crucial data about the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate.

The partnership will build on BBIL’s experience of developing and supplying affordable vaccines, and WHO pre-qualification procedures, to ensure affordable access to the vaccine in countries where Chikungunya is endemic, in line with CEPI’s core commitment to equitable access.

Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, said, “We are immensely proud to be part of this esteemed alliance to bring to the world a safe and effective solution against the debilitating Chikungunya infection. At Bharat Biotech, we have always been at the forefront of innovation while developing vaccines for neglected diseases such as Typhoid and re-emerging epidemics such as Zika, H1N1, and Japanese Encephalitis. We are hopeful that with accelerated clinical development in endemic countries, the candidate CHIK vaccine will be successful.

The investment is part of CEPI’s third call for proposals which was launched in January 2019. Since the launch of this call, over $80 million of CEPI core funding has been committed to three Chikungunya vaccine candidates and two Rift Valley Fever vaccine candidates.

BBV87 vaccine candidate

BBIL’s BBV87 vaccine is an inactivated whole virion vaccine based on a strain derived from an East, Central, South African (ECSA) genotype. The vaccine has completed standard pre-clinical studies, and an optimum immune response was elicited by the adjuvanted vaccine in phase 1 clinical trials in India.

Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Chairperson, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) said, “Chikungunya has emerged as an important public health problem in India. The development of an effective Chikungunya vaccine will be a game changer in the global health sector. Under the Ind-CEPI mission, the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India will support Bharat Biotech for this collaborative project, the first initiative of this mission, to expedite the development of Chikungunya vaccine.”

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