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Dhaka Tribune

Globe Biotech claims to be the first Bangladeshi company to develop Covid-19 vaccine

The company is currently undertaking preliminary tests with animal modelling

Update : 02 Jul 2020, 02:55 PM

Claiming success in preliminary animal modelling trial for Covid-19 vaccine, Globe Biotech Limited has claimed to be the first company from Bangladesh to have a Covid-19 vaccine under development.

They received the result after conducting the preliminary trial on five rabbits from June 10 to June 28, said Dr Asif Mahmud, assistant manager and in-charge, Research and Development, Globe Biotech Limited at a press conference at its corporate office in Dhaka’s Tejgaon on Thursday afternoon.

However, after trials are completed, it would take another six months for the vaccine to be marketed, he claimed.

The company is yet to apply for a patent and before the patent is ensured it would not disclose the data received from the trial, he added.

“We have already formulated the regulated animal trial guideline and the tests would be concluded within four to six weeks,” he said adding that after which the company will seek ethical approvals from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC).

When (and if) they acquire those approvals, the company will be ready to move on to human trials through third parties under the supervision of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) in order to assess the effectiveness of the drug.

He said they went for the SPR method for the tests. SPR, Surface plasmon resonance is an optical technique utilized for detecting molecular interactions.

According to the scientist, a 12-member scientific group started the research on March 18 led by Globe Biotech CEO Kakon Nag and COO Naznin Sultana. Both of them supervised the team from Canada.

Regarding genome sequencing, he said they have taken some 76 genome sequences under their consideration, where they have found that a sequence (numbered 614) has a mutation point that they have used for amino acid bonding.

Asif said on June 10, the rabbits were isolated and on June 12 they collected serum to analyze if they have already developed the antibody. On June 14 three of them were given the invented dose for the first time.

The second dose was given on June 21 and the third on June 28. Blood serum was collected to see if the antigen and antibody bond was effectively made, raising the resonance to considerable levels. The whole procedure was done following the WHO guideline, he added. 

“After conducting the regulated animal modelling test, we would be ready to go for phase 1 human trial,” he said, adding that only a few companies in the world have been able to go for phase 1 trial within this year. 

According to global media and health journals almost 200 companies in the world are working on developing a vaccine among which Moderna and Pfizer in the USA, the University of Oxford in the UK, Sinovac Biotech in China, Bharat Biotech India (BBIL) in India and some others have announced their inventions. 

Asif Mahmud said among the 200 companies, some 11 are at phase 1, while four companies are at phase 2, and three companies are at phase 3 in the world. 

The scientist said at present there is some 7 billion vaccine demand in the world among which only 1.2 billion could be met.  In these circumstances developing a vaccine on our own would make it feasible.     

Harunur Rashid, Chairman, Globe Biotech Limited, said: “Importing coronavirus vaccines from abroad is surely going to be very expensive, whenever that happens. We can’t yet say what the exact price of our solution will be. But our target is to produce something affordable.”

When contacted, the spokesperson of DGDA, Auyub Hossain told Dhaka Tribune that Globe biotech has the permission to conduct such research. “But they did not inform us anything yet and before they inform us officially it would not be wise to make any comment.”

“But initiatives like this will always be praised and supported by us, and we will provide all necessary assistance if they approach us,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy Prof SM Abdur Rahman chose not to make any comment before studying the procedure of the development. 

He however said developing a vaccine of a virus that has more than 5,000 reformations throughout the world, and 117 in the latest reformation in the country, is a much-appreciated work.

“All I hope is that the courage this local company has shown by doing the research is done by maintaining standard procedure and it would be scientifically accepted by the concerned authorities in future,” he added. 

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