Six Indian pharma and biotech firms have joined the global race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 with India-developed vaccine candidates moving swiftly toward Phase I and II human trials thanks to international partnerships and financial backing. 


The Indian companies currently at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development are Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Biologicals E Limited, Mynvax, Indian Immunologicals and Zydus Cadila. 


Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers, produces over a billion vaccine doses each year. Serum has partnered with US biotech Codagenix and will jointly work on a live-attenuated vaccine in which the virulence of the pathogen is reduced while simultaneously keeping it alive. 


Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s vaccine candidate, COVAXIN is India’s first ‘indigenous’ candidate, being developed in tandem with the Indian Council of Medical Research at the National Institute of Virology. Bharat received approval for Phase I & II Human Clinical Trials which will begin in July 2020.


Mynvax, a startup which was incubated at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, is working on its homegrown vaccine which the firm believes can be ready in around 18 months. Mynvax has received backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Indian Immunologicals Limited of Hyderabad is collaborating with Australia-based Griffith University to develop its vaccine. The international team is leveraging cutting-edge codon de-optimization technology.


Zydus Cadila is in the process of developing two vaccines in a fast-track programme and has been given clearance to begin human trials. The first candidate is a DNA vaccine against the coronavirus membrane protein, enhancing immune response while removing viral cells. The second candidate uses a live recombinant measles virus strain to boost production of antibodies.