Indian drugmaker Cadila looks for outside production boost for COVID-19 vaccine: report

Syringe injection vaccine needle
Cadila's COVID-19 vaccine candidate hopes to enter phase 3 testing by December. (Pixabay)

As some of the biggest players in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine prepare for pivotal data readouts in the coming months, smaller drugmakers are working hard to get their own less-heralded candidates across the finish line. One of those players, India's Cadila, hopes to snare an outside partner to quickly scale up production of its shot. 

Cadila Healthcare is seeking outside manufacturing partners to chip in up to 70 million doses per year of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, adding to the 100 million doses the company believes it can produce in-house, Bloomberg reported.

The vaccine, which utilizes plasmid DNA, is currently in phase 2 trials and expects to enroll 30,000 patients in a pivotal study by December, a company official told Bloomberg. The Indian government has shelled out roughly $7 billion to drive vaccine production and distribution efforts in the country, Bloomberg said. 

Cadila is one of a group of Indian drugmakers making a COVID-19 vaccine in-house or working with international partners in an effort to vaccinate the country's 1.3 billion residents. 

RELATED: Indian vaccine giant pledges 100M more coronavirus shots as part of Gates-funded troika

The Serum Institute of India (SII), a generics vaccines giant, pledged in late September to make an additional 100 million COVID-19 shots for low- and middle-income nations—including India—in 2021 as part of an expanded distribution effort with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As part of their ramped-up manufacturing pact, the Gates Foundation will pour an additional $150 million into boosting SII and Gavi's production capacity to provide shots at a maximum of $3 per dose, bringing its total contribution to $300 million.

SII's commitment to the effort will be 200 million doses in 2021. Distribution will begin in the first half of the year, provided at least one of its partnered shots—from AstraZeneca and Novavax—passes muster with regulators.

RELATED: Novavax adds antigens to COVID-19 production pact with Indian vaccines giant

Also in September, Novavax and SII added antigen production to their licensing pact for the Maryland biotech's recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. SII joined five other manufacturers helping produce the antigen component of Novavax's vaccine, dubbed NVX-CoV2373.

In early June, AstraZeneca tapped SII in a licensing deal to produce 1 billion doses of its University of Oxford-partnered shot for low- and middle-income countries, with the goal of turning out 400 million by the end of 2020. AstraZeneca also signed a $750 million deal with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi to manufacture and distribute 300 million doses of the vaccine before 2021.