Tata Group’s healthcare venture is said to have started initial discussions with Moderna Inc for a partnership to launch its COVID-19 vaccine in India, the Economic Times reported on Monday.
Tata Medical & Diagnostics could team up with India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to carry out clinical trials of Moderna’s vaccine candidate in India, the said, citing officials familiar with the matter.
Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius or below, Moderna’s can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, making it more suited for poorer countries such as India where cold chains are limited.
Data released in November from Moderna’s late-stage study showed it was 94.1% effective with no serious safety concerns. The shot was approved for use in the United States in December and in Europe earlier this month.
India mandates that any vaccine maker must conduct an additional local study if it has to be considered for what the country calls the world’s biggest vaccination programme.
It gave emergency-use approval to a vaccine by Bharat Biotech and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca that is being produced by the Serum Institute.
India has the world’s second-highest COVID-19 caseload after the United States, but daily cases have been declining since hitting a peak in September.
India’s drugs controller has said the overall efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, locally named as COVISHIELD, was 70.42% based on trials done overseas, but the approval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has faced criticism due to the lack of efficacy data.