A day after the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) denied approval for emergency use of Covaxin, the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech on Friday said that it is following the recommendation for additional data and will work for full approval.
The process will extend Covaxin timelines for seeking US approvals, the company said in a statement.
The FDA had on Thursday recommended Ocugen, the US partner of the Indian vaccine maker, to “pursue a Biologics Licence Application (BLA) submission instead of an EUA application” and “requested additional information and data”.
“Our US partner, Ocugen, has received a recommendation from the FDA to pursue Biologics License Applications (BLA) path for COVAXIN which is full approval instead of EUA. All applications have to follow the BLA process, which is the standard process for vaccines,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement.
“Therefore, for BLA, data from an additional clinical trial will be required to support the marketing application submission for COVAXIN This process will extend our timelines,” it added.
The company said that no vaccine manufactured or developed from India has ever received EUA or full licensure from USFDA.
“Thus, it will be a Great Leap Forward for vaccine innovation and manufacturing from India when approved.”
“With good herd immunity and a significant percentage of the population vaccinated, the pandemic is reducing in the United States (US). On the sidelines of this, the USFDA had earlier communicated that no new emergency use authorization (EUA) would be approved for new Covid-19 vaccines,” the statement noted.
Covaxin has received approval for emergency use from 14 countries with more than 50 countries in the process. More than 30 million doses of the vaccine have been supplied in India and other countries.
“Although we were close to finalising our EUA application for submission, we received a recommendation from the FDA to pursue a BLA path. While this will extend our timelines, we are committed to bringing Covaxin to the US,” said Shankar Musunuri, Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, and Co-founder of Ocugen, in a statement on Thursday.
“This differentiated vaccine is a critical tool to include in our national arsenal given its potential to address the SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the delta variant, and given the unknowns about what will be needed to protect US population in the long term,” Musunuri added.
Ocugen recently announced that it secured exclusive rights to commercialise Covaxin in Canada and has initiated discussions with Health Canada for regulatory approval.
“The Company will pursue expedited authorisation for Covaxin under the Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to Covid-19 in Canada,” the statement said.
Covaxin has so far emerged safe in clinical trials to date, said Bruce Forrest, Acting Chief Medical Officer and member of the vaccine scientific advisory board of Ocugen.
The “Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Republic of India reported no potential thromboembolic events following the administration of over 6.7 million doses of Covaxin,” Forrest added.
Bharat Biotech developed Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).
It is an inactivated vaccine that is manufactured using a vero cell manufacturing platform. Covaxin has showed strong results in all the studies conducted to date including a vaccine efficacy rate of 78 per cent overall efficacy and 100 per cent in severe Covid-19 disease, including hospitalisations, in second interim results of Bharat Biotech’s Phase 3 clinical trial.
Covaxin studies show that it effectively neutralised the Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2, B11282, the alpha variant, B117, which was first identified in the UK, as well as the delta variant, B1617, which was first identified in India.