Private research organization CRO steps in
Globe Biotech, the only Bangladeshi company that has claimed progress in developing a Covid-19 vaccine, has announced that they will part ways with icddr,b for conducting human trials of their vaccine BanCovid.
The bio technology company informed icddr,b about the cancellation through a letter on Monday and received a verbal agreement from CRO Bangladesh the same day, confirmed Dr Mohammad Mohiuddin, manager (Standards and Regulator) of the biotech company.
Globe Biotech cancelled their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) as they observed less progress in icddr,b’s approach to conducting the human trial.
According to Globe Biotech officials, they started communications with icddr,b for the purpose of carrying out human trials from August 29, which took the form of a MoU on October 14. However, no more progress was made till late November.
During this time span, nine meetings were held with icddr,b but they failed to give any updates. They could not even give an update about getting approval from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC), added the Globe Biotech officials.
Chairman of Globe Biotech Harunur Rashid, in an unscheduled press meet following the visit of a government team under Health Secretary Abdul Mannan and Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) ABM Khurshid Alam, said the biotech organization has become tired of the process dragging on for so long.
Doubtful over several issues, Globe Biotech asked CRO Bangladesh, their old partner for trials of their products, if they are interested in the trial.
Upon receiving confirmation from CRO Bangladesh, the agreement with icddr,b was cancelled.
Clinical Research Organization (CRO) is a pioneer Bangladeshi private research organization providing clinical and non-clinical research services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, physicians, researchers, scientists and other organizations in Bangladesh and beyond.
Recently, they conducted a trial for a foreign product in Bangladesh and their performance inspired Globe Biotech to select the organization as a third party.
A "draft landscape of Covid-19 candidate vaccines" was formed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in mid-October. In July, Globe Biotech announced their candidacy for developing the vaccine and was later included in the WHO list as a candidate vaccine in clinical evaluation.
Role of the government
The scenario has been changed a little for CRO as the secretary and DG of DGHS has said they will provide technical support through the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR), a wing under DGHS.
“Globe Biotech will work with IEDCR and take all the advice they provide. Even if they suggest any other organization as a third party, that will be accepted as well,” said Globe Chairman Dr Mohiuddin.
“What we want is to start the procedure as soon as possible and to go for trial in the shortest period,” he added.
This is not the first time government officials have visited the Globe Biotech labs, as another team visited on November 12.
In the unscheduled press meet, Secretary of MoHFW Abdul Mannan said: “Although we will get vaccines from the global community, it will have a limit. Having a local source would be a relief.
“If anybody comes forward with such a source, it would be a great service and we will definitely help them. It is a matter of the branding of the country’s name as well,” he added.
Abdul Mannan also proposed to change the name of the vaccine to “Bangavax.”
The name would represent Bangla and Bangabandhu as well, so it would be a good name, said DGHS DG Dr Khurshid.