Bharat Bio’s US partner Ocugen seeks FDA nod for Covaxin use in children

New Delhi: US biopharmaceutical company Ocugen Inc on Friday said it has sought the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its covid-19 vaccine candidate Covaxin developed with India’s Bharat Biotech for pediatric use.

The vaccine candidate was studied in an immuno-bridging clinical trial conducted in India with children 2-18 years of age.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday granted emergency approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, allowing millions of recipients of the indigenously developed vaccine to travel overseas without restrictions and setting the stage for its export.

Covaxin is a whole-virion, inactivated vaccine, manufactured using a vero Cell manufacturing platform, as has been used in the production of the inactivated polio vaccine for the past 35 years, as well as of other traditional childhood vaccines.

The submission, the company said, is based on results of a Phase 2/3 pediatric clinical trial conducted by Bharat Biotech in India with 526 children 2-18 years of age, which bridged immunogenicity data to a large, Phase 3 safety and efficacy clinical trial in nearly 25,800 adults in India.

A Phase 2/3, open-label, multicenter study was conducted in India from May to July to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of the whole-virion inactivated SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (covaxin) in healthy volunteers 2-18 years of age.

Covaxin was evaluated in three age groups– 2-6 years, 6-12 years and 12-18 years. All participants received two doses of the whole virion inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine 28 days apart.

The neutralizing antibody responses against wild-type strain in the pediatric age group of 2-18 years were equivalent to those seen in adults, ages 18+ years, in Bharat Biotech’s large Phase 3 efficacy and safety trial. 

More than 90% of the seroconversion rates were observed for antibody titers against S1, RBD, N proteins and wild-type neutralizing antibodies. These results suggest similar protection in children, ages 2-18, to that demonstrated in adults older than 18 years.

Among the 526 study subjects in the pediatric clinical trial, no serious adverse effects, such as deaths, hospitalizations, myocarditis, pericarditis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia or anaphylactic reactions were reported in the study. These were also not observed in the surveillance data collected in India following the administration of over 59 million doses of Covaxin in adults. All other adverse events were mild or moderate in nature and were generally resolved within 24 hours.

“Our research suggests that people are seeking more choices when selecting a vaccine, especially for their children. Having a new type of vaccine available will enable people to discuss with their child’s physician the best approach for them to lower their child’s risk of contracting covid-19,” said Dr. Shankar Musunuri, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and co-founder of ocugen. “The inactivated virus platform has been used for decades in vaccines for the pediatric population and, if authorized, we hope to offer another vaccine option to protect children as young as 2 years.”

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