Saturday, June 24, 2023

GEMCOVA-OM, an Omicron-specific mRNA-based Booster vaccine launch

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, MoS PMO, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space and MoS Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh launched the GEMCOVAC® -OM, an Omicron-specific mRNA-based Booster vaccine.

India’s first mRNA vaccine has been developed using the indigenous platform technology by Gennova, with funding support from Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). A few days ago this vaccine got the nod from the office of the Drug Control General of India (DCGI) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

"I take great pride in DBT fulfilling its mission yet again – enabling technology-driven entrepreneurship through creating this indigenous mRNA-platform technology. We have always supported technology-driven innovation towards the creation of a 'future-ready' technology platform in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Aatmanirbharta,” said Dr Jitendra Singh.

GEMCOVAC® -OM is the fifth vaccine developed with support from Mission COVID Suraksha implemented by DBT and BIRAC under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 package of Govt. of India for accelerated development of Indian COVID-19 vaccines.

“Within a year of implementation, the Mission Covid Suraksha demonstrated major achievements, such as (i) Development of the World's first DNA Vaccine for COVID-19, and (ii) Supporting the development of the nation's first mRNA Vaccine and intranasal vaccine candidates and a subunit vaccine against COVID-19,” said Dr Jitendra Singh.

The Minister said this 'future-ready' technology platform can be used to make other vaccines in a relatively short developmental timeline.

“Steady investments made by the Government of India has created a strong entrepreneurship as well as Startup ecosystem which had actually facilitated our response against the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. I congratulate DBT and BIRAC for fulfilling its mission yet again by enabling technology-driven entrepreneurship through creating this indigenous mRNA-platform technology,” he said.

GEMCOVAC® -OM is a thermostable vaccine and does not require ultra-cold chain infrastructure used for other approved mRNA- based vaccines.

“This innovation makes it easy for last mile deployment in our country. The existing supply chain infrastructure is sufficient to deploy this vaccine,” said Dr Jitendra Singh, adding, “Its unique feature is that this vaccine can be administered without a needle injection.”

The GEMCOVAC® -OM vaccine is delivered intra-dermally using a needle-free injection device system and in study participants it generated significantly higher immune responses. The clinical outcome demonstrates the need for variant-specific vaccines for desired immune response.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, DBT and BIRAC have made strenuous efforts to strengthen the Indian vaccine research and development over the last nine years.

A number of key initiatives are currently being implemented to promote basic and translational vaccine research, including the (i) Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme, (ii) National Biopharma Mission, (iii) Ind-CEPI Mission, and (iv) Mission COVID Suraksha, which was launched as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0, with the goal of bringing safe, efficacious, affordable and accessible indigenous COVID 19 vaccines to the citizens of the country at the earliest.