Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine project funded by CEPI

CEPI is going to provide about $19.3 million for supporting ‘variant-proof’ Covid-19 vaccine’s development to a worldwide multidisciplinary consortium that consists of the maker of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech, The University of Sydney, and ExcellGene SA, Switzerland.

A better covid vaccine awaits
Research is on for a variant proof version for a covid vaccine (Image: Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash)

The consortium will be supported by the funding because it seeks to develop a clinical and pre-clinical proof of concept for a helpful subunit vaccine that will be designed to provide wide protection against every SARS-CoV-2 variant and will also protect against the corona’s future variants, which haven’t emerged yet.

The funding will be received from the researchers for conducting activities, including pre-clinical studies, immunogen design, Phase 1 clinical trial, and development of the manufacturing process.

A variant-proof covid vaccine

Richard Hatchett, the CEO of CEPI, told the journalists of Business Standard that the repetitive COVID-19 wave reminds us that the virus will live here in the future for several years, and we will need to cope with it. A new variant’s threat that may interrupt the protection of the current vaccines is something real. 

Therefore, investigation in the research and development phase of the variant-proof SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is imperative for a global cause.

Covid vaccine candidate development

ExcellGene and the University of Sydney have a partnership with Bharat Biotech that is going to advance the vaccine candidate development for protecting against COVID-19’s future variants. It will contribute to the virus’s long-term control. The consortium partners have committed to attaining equitable access to this project’s output.

According to CEPI and the information published in The Hindu, the funding falls in the latest award category under the $200 million program for boosting vaccines’ development, offering extensive protection against the variants of CARS-CoV-2 and several other types of beta coronaviruses. 

Information published in Business Standard claims that Betacoronaviruses are one of the four coronaviruses’ genera, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. All the natural reservoirs for beta coronaviruses are rodents and bats. Several incidents of outbreaks of betacoronavirus have been there among humans since the 2000s. 

The current vaccines are safe but not enough

The CMD of Bharat Biotech, Krishna Ella, said to Business Standard that the current vaccines the effective and safe against all the current covid-19 variants. 

But it has become necessary to focus on the innovation for a multi-epitope vaccine. A single vaccine needs to be created that can protect against every future covid-19 variant.

The giant covid vaccine partnership

The news published in Business Standard revealed that the expertise of Bharat Biotech in product innovation and development, especially with platform technologies, will significantly contribute to the partnership.

A framework will be provided by the University of Sydney to facilitate the pre-clinical assessment of vaccine candidates. It is going to have access to the top-class early phase clinical trial community of Australia. 

For unique protein designs, the technological platform of ExcellGene was used earlier for identifying and manufacturing an antigen for an Ebola candidate vaccine. However, for the current project also, similar approaches are being put to use for generating several antigen preparations extracted from the spike protein variants of CARS-CoV-2, which eventually focuses on the development of the best antigen for vaccine needs.


CEPI’s 5-year plan lays out a $3.5 billion roadmap for compressing timelines of vaccine development to 100 days, manufacturing a widely protective vaccine against COVID-19 and several other beta coronaviruses. It strives to make a “library” of vaccine candidates for utilization against both unknown and known pathogens.


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