With British biomedical firm ViraCorp, leading Bangladeshi pharmaceutical company Incepta is set to develop a unique, needle-free Covid-19 vaccine, which uses state-of-the-art intra-nasal technology.
Currently under a pre-clinical trial, this nasal vaccine is expected to hit the market in the third quarter of next year, said an Incepta Pharmaceuticals official.
"Lancaster University and ViraCorp have successfully developed this vaccine in their lab and are conducting a worldwide clinical trial. Incepta Pharmaceuticals is partnering with ViraCorp to make the vaccine commercially available in the market," an Incepta official told The Business Standard on condition of anonymity.
"We will either supply it locally or export it to other countries," added the official.
The price of the vaccine has not been fixed yet, as it will take another 7-8 months for its production. However, according to the Incepta authority, the vaccine will be very affordable.
Experts say, this vaccine features a unique formulation and delivery method which means it not only protects against Covid-19, but it can be delivered by nasal spray and transported using traditional cold transportation. This has numerous advantages compared to other vaccines currently on the market.
"Having a vaccine which can be transported easily and administered through a nasal delivery system reduces the heavy infrastructure and training requirements of a vaccination drive and will help ensure the vaccine to reach some of the world's most remote communities," said Dr Muhammad Munir, a pioneer of needleless and next-generation Covid-19 vaccine, who has taken on the role of Chief Scientific Officer at ViraCorp.
People involved with production of this vaccine said, administering this vaccine will not require anyone's help. Individuals will be able to buy the vaccine from a medical store and administer it all by themselves.
The Bangladesh government has been providing free vaccines since 7 February and so far 6.74 crore people have received their first jabs while 4.41 crore got both the doses.
Starting on Sunday, the government is set to begin administering booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Asked whether the Incepta nasal vaccine will be available in pharmacies, the Incepta official said, "It depends on the government. After everyone gets both their doses, if the government asks people to buy booster doses, they can get it from us. Or, the government can buy it from us and distribute it for free."
Incepta's facility has a yearly production capacity of 180 million single doses, or 1 billion doses in multi-dose format.
"Incepta always explores ways to acquire, develop and optimize new vaccine processes as well as production technologies. This collaboration will be a milestone to provide a new delivery system making it a very attractive solution for vaccination in developing countries like ours, alongside remote communities," said Dr Abdul Muktadir, chairman and managing director, Incepta Vaccine Ltd.
Other than the nasal spray vaccine deal with ViraCorp, Incepta Vaccine Ltd has partnered with the government to produce Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and another protein-vaccine in collaboration with the USA's Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital.
Earlier in August, there were efforts by a group of doctors in the country to run a trial of a nasal spray vaccine, developed in Sweden's Karolinska Institute.
One of the experts in that effort, Professor Ahmedul Kabir, who is also the additional director general of Directorate General of Health Services told TBS, "Trial of that vaccine has been postponed due to complications of technology transfer from Sweden. It is uncertain when we will be able to begin that trial."
So far, no nasal vaccine initiative has received a nod to proceed with trials in the country. India's Bharat Biotech, USA's Codagenix, The University of Hong Kong of China and USA's The National Institutes of Health have completed different trial stages for nasal vaccines.