Panacea Biotec aims to make 1 bln doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidate in 2022

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian biotech firm Panacea Biotec Ltd said on Wednesday it remains on schedule to produce first production quantities of COVID-19 vaccine candidate by January 2021.

Shares of Panacea Biotec rose as much as 5.9% after the news in its sharpest daily move in nearly three weeks, before trimming some gains to trade up 1.2% by 0936 GMT.

The company said last month it would partner with U.S.-based Refana Inc to make a potential COVID-19 vaccine, in a collaboration that expects to have over 40 million doses available early next year.

“We continue to evaluate candidate vaccines in pre-clinical investigations in accordance with (our) timeline. We do not envisage the commencement of clinical studies until September this year,” the company said in an emailed statement.

It has set production targets of 500 million doses for 2021 and one billion doses in 2022 for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The company is looking to produce an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, the technology for which is well known and has been used to make vaccines against diseases such as influenza and measles.

India’s Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila, listed as Cadila Healthcare Ltd, have received regulatory approvals to test their vaccine candidates in humans.

There are no approved vaccines for the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, but 19 candidates are being trialled in humans globally. China is leading the race, with an experimental vaccine by Sinovac Biotech Ltd set to become the country’s second to enter final stage testing later this month.

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri