The fight against Chikungunya disease has got a major boost with CEPI, the global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and its Indian arm Ind-CEPI, announcing a new partnering agreement with a consortium comprising Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech (BBIL) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to promote the development of a vaccine against the disease.
CEPI will fund the consortium with up to US $14.1 million for vaccine manufacturing and clinical development of a two-dose live-inactivated vaccine candidate of Bharat Biotech named BBV87. The grant is supported by the European Union’s (EU’s) Horizon 2020 programme through an existing framework partnership agreement with CEPI. Its Indian arm, Ind-CEPI, in turn, will provide a grant of up to US $2.0 million to fund the set-up of GMP manufacturing facilities for the vaccine in India, and the subsequent manufacture of clinical trial materials.
Besides, 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 data on the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate. The partnership will build on Bharat Biotech’s experience of developing and supplying affordable vaccines and WHO prequalification procedures to ensure affordable access to the vaccine in countries where Chikungunya is endemic, in line with CEPI’s core commitment to equitable access.
The investment is part of CEPI’s third call for proposals which was launched in January 2019. Since the launch of this call, over US $80 million of CEPI core funding has been committed to three Chikungunya vaccine candidates and two Rift Valley Fever vaccine candidates.
BBV87 vaccine candidate
A Bharat Biotech press release noted that the vaccine candidate is an inactivated whole virion vaccine based on a strain derived from an East, Central, South African (ECSA) genotype and has completed standard pre-clinical studies. “It elicited an optimum immune response in phase 1 clinical trials in India. Inactivated virions technology has a safety profile which potentially makes this vaccine accessible to special populations, such as the immunocompromised and pregnant women, that some other technologies cannot reach”, it added.