Panacea Biotec inks deal with US-based Refana to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Biotechnology company Panacea Biotec on Wednesday said it is setting up a joint venture firm in Ireland with US-based Refana Inc to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

The company is advancing its response to address the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 by collaborating with Refana Inc to make a vaccine widely accessible around the world, in an equitable manner, through a joint venture company to be based in Ireland, Panacea Biotec said in a regulatory filing.

The collaboration aims to bring to patients a whole inactivated virus-based vaccine for COVID-19, the company added.

As per the partnership, Panacea Biotec will be responsible for product development and commercial manufacturing, while the JV company will undertake clinical development and regulatory submissions across the world.


Both Panacea and Refana will undertake sales and distribution of the vaccine in their respective territories.

“The world needs a vaccine that is safe, effective, and scalable in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) compliant manufacturing facility that has sizeable capacity and capability to cater to global demand,” Panacea Biotec’s Managing Director, Rajesh Jain, said.

The two companies aim to manufacture 500 million doses of the COVID-19 candidate vaccine, with over 40 million doses expected to be available for delivery early next year, he added.

Whole inactivated viral vaccines have a higher probability of being safe and efficacious, given their long history and better understanding of their mechanism of action, which has been elucidated over many decades, Rajesh said.

Earlier in April, The Department of Biotechnology short-listed three companies for funding the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, besides 13 other proposals it received for diagnostics, therapeutics and other interventions to fight coronavirus,

The three companies are Cadila Healthcare, Bharat Biotech International, and Serum Institute of India Private.

The DBT said a multifaceted approach was being adopted to ensure that vaccine companies utilising different platforms and at different stages of development were fast-tracked through a research consortium under funding from the National Biopharma Mission, an initiative launched in 2017 to support development of vaccines and drugs.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

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