$14 mn CEPI grant for Bharat Biotech, IVI to develop Chikungunya vaccine

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) on Wednesday announced a $14.1 million grant to a consortium comprising Bharat Biotech and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to advance the development of a Chikungunya vaccine.

The CEPI, in collaboration with Ind-CEPI, announced a new partnering agreement with the consortium 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 Horizon 2020 programme through an existing framework partnership agreement with CEPI, said a statement.

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

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 Bharat Biotech’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.

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.

“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,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI.

“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,” said Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Chairperson, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, said their company had 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,” he added.