QCOSTARICA – The world may soon get a new weapon against the debilitating infection of Chikungunya, thanks to aA multi-country Phase II / III clinical trial of a vaccine led by the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) in partnership with Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL) began in Costa Rica, on August 24, 2021.
The research is funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) with support from the Ind-CEPI mission of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India.
The Global Chikungunya Vaccine Clinical Development Programme (GCCDP) seeks to develop and manufacture an affordable Chikungunya vaccine to achieve WHO prequalification to enable its distribution in low- and middle-income countries, consistent with CEPI’s core commitment to equitable access, affordability, and sustainability.
Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director, Bharat Biotech, said: “The vaccine candidate is an ingenious, well-researched vaccine. The human trial has begun an important trial phase in furthering the evaluation of safety and immunogenicity.”
Sushant Sahastrabuddhe, acting associate director general at IVI and principal investigator of GCCDP, said: “The start of this trial in Costa Rica is a significant milestone in the effort to make available a safe, effective, and affordable Chikungunya vaccine for the one billion people around the world at risk of Chikungunya virus infection.”
“It is very encouraging to witness the commencement of Phase II / III study of BBV87 in Costa Rica. This milestone is a first step towards developing a promising vaccine candidate against Chikungunya, an exhausting disease,” said Renu Swarup, secretary, DBT.
BBV87 vaccine is an inactivated whole virion vaccine based on a strain derived from an East, Central and South African genotype. Inactivated virions technology has a safety profile that potentially makes this vaccine accessible to special populations, such as the immunocompromised and pregnant women, that some other technologies cannot reach.
In addition to the trial in Costa Rica, trials are expected to begin in Panama and Colombia in September 2021 and in Thailand and Guatemala shortly thereafter.
Up to July 31, 2021, 85,304 cases have been reported, the majority from Brazil, India, Belize, Malaysia, and Peru.
In Costa Rica, as of July 3, 18 cases have been reported. This is an increase of 4 cases since June 12, 2021.
The first cases of chikungunya fever in Costa Rica were reported in 2014.