In the wake of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) inviting applications on COVID-19 Research Consortium, around 500 applications were received from academia and industry. The multi-tiered review process is ongoing and till date, 16 proposals of devices, diagnostics, vaccine candidates, therapeutics and other interventions have been recommended for receiving funding support.
A multi-faceted approach is being adopted to ensure that vaccine candidates utilising different platforms and, at different stages of development, are fast tracked through this Research Consortium under funding from National Biopharma Mission. Both, repurposing of existing vaccine candidates for immediate protection of high-risk groups and novel vaccine candidate development were considered while selecting proposals under this call. Funding support has been recommended to Cadila Healthcare for advancing the development of a DNA vaccine candidate against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and to Bharat Biotech for COVID-19 vaccine candidate utilising the inactivated rabies vector platform. Furthermore, for the phase-three human clinical trials study of recombinant BCG vaccine (VPM1002) planned in high-risk population, Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL) will be supported. Development of a novel vaccine evaluation platform at National Institute of Immunology to support SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development has also been approved for financial support.
Production of purified immunoglobulin G, IgG at commercial scale from COVID-19 convalescent sera and production of high titers of equine hyper immune globulin for the treatment of COVID-19 infected patients on large scale will be supported at Virchow Biotech. Financial support to OncoSeek Biowill be provided to create an in-vitro lung-organoid model.
To boost indigenous production and to scale-up the production of molecular and rapid diagnostic tests, the companies that will receive financial support are Mylab Discovery Solutions, Huwel Lifesciences, Ubio Biotechnology Systems, Dhiti Life Sciences, MagGenome Technologies, Bigtec and Yaathum Biotech.
Common shared facility to manufacture diagnostic kits and ventilators will be established at Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ) under National Biopharma Mission of DBT to provide scale up production capacity to different manufacturers.
Development and deployment of contactless, affordable thermopile-based ultrasonic sensors for screening of COVID-19 suspects and indigenous production of novel personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals will also be supported.