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Bharat Biotech offers Brazil potential COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A man rides his motorcycle past a parked bus of Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech outside its office in Hyderabad, India July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - India’s Bharat Biotech this week offered Brazil a COVID-19 vaccine that is in late-stage clinical trials and a possible technology transfer partnership, a company executive said on Friday.

The private pharmaceutical company based in the southern city of Hyderabad is developing a whole-virion inactivated vaccine called Covaxin that could be licensed by the second quarter of 2021.

“The data looks really good in terms of reduction and also prevention of disease, and we started our Phase 3 clinical trials this week,” Executive Director Sai Prasad told Reuters.

Bharat Biotech is currently recruiting 26,000 volunteers in India for the trials and the results are expected between March and April, he said.

Pfizer Inc said on Wednesday it had offered to provide Brazil with millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021, amid evidence the coronavirus is spreading more rapidly in South America’s largest country.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE reported final trial results that showed the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

Bharat Biotech representatives met this week with Brazilian health ministry and regulatory agency officials to see what the requirements are for licensing the vaccine in Brazil and whether trials would have to be done there too.

“We are definitely open for partnerships and for technology transfers,” Prasad said in an interview from Hyderabad.

Bharat Biotech has sold a Hepatitis B vaccine to Brazil and is developing others for Zika and Chicungunya that the South American country is interested in, he said.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Nick Macfie

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