ICMR shortlists 29 cos for monkeypox vax, kits

NEW DELHI : The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shortlisted 29 pharma companies as part of its initial screening for developing a monkeypox vaccine and diagnostic kits in collaboration with ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV-Pune).

In June, ICMR researchers isolated the first monkeypox virus strain and invited expressions of interest from pharmaceutical companies and in-vitro diagnostic kit manufacturers to help develop a vaccine and kits for monkeypox.

According to a government official, ICMR received applications from Serum Institute of India, Biological E, Haffkine Institute, Mumbai, and Indian Immunological Institute. “We received 31 applications from pharma companies till the last day of the bid. In our last meeting on Friday, we shortlisted 29 applications, but this does not mean they will all be part of the project. Documents will be verified and their experience will be evaluated before ICMR collaborates with them,” said a senior ICMR scientist requesting anonymity. “It will take time to evaluate, then we will a do a formal agreement with them,” he added.

While eight pharma companies have sent applications to develop monkeypox vaccine, 23 firms are interested in making testing kits.

So far, India has reported 10 confirmed monkeypox cases. Kerala and Delhi have reported five cases each. The US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said over 19,000 cases have been reported globally. Small pox vaccines, ACAM2000 and Jynneos, are presently in use despite not being clinically tested on monkeypox patients.

Emailed queries to spokespeople at ICMR, Serum Institute and Biological E remained unanswered.

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