ICMR isolates monkeypox virus, invites bids for jabs, Health News, ET HealthWorld

ICMR isolates monkeypox virus, invites bids for jabs

NEW DELHI: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited bids from private players to develop testing kits and vaccine candidate against the monkeypox virus. The development follows successful isolation of the monkeypox virus from the clinical specimen obtained from a patient by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune – an ICMR lab.

Top ICMR officials said an expression of interest (EoI) has already been issued to invite bids from “experienced” companies. “We are looking for the development of a safe and effective monkeypox vaccine for eliciting strong, durable, and broad immune responses towards robust clinical protection against monkeypox virus infection as well as kits for diagnosis of monkeypox virus infection,” a senior official said.

In case of Covid-19 too, NIV-Pune had succeeded in isolating the virus, which was then transferred to Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based firm that developed Covaxin.

“We were in the middle of the pandemic at that time, so the decision was taken to invite the company which was willing and had experience in manufacturing vaccines on a mass scale. Now, learning from our past experience, we have decided to start early and select a company through due process for the development of an indigenous vaccine against monkeypox,” a senior scientist from ICMR said.

Under the terms and conditions of the EoI, ICMR proposes to provide technical support and facilitate clinical trials of new vaccine candidates in the country through its affiliates/institutes while the company which wins the bid will be responsible research and development, manufacturing, and commercialisation of monkeypox vaccine/IVD Kit.

Dr Pragya Yadav, a senior scientist at NIV Pune, told TOI that the monkeypox virus was isolated using Vero cells. “We performed next generation sequencing to confirm the isolates and purified and characterised them further using the complete genome sequencing,” she said.

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Monkeypox has affected 18,000 people globally, with the majority of cases being reported from Europe. In India, four cases of Monkeypox have been confirmed till date – three from Kerala and one from Delhi – and there are over a dozen people who are currently on the suspect list. Dr Yadav said the development of an indigenous vaccine is necessary to deal with a potential crisis, she added.