Vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech has signed an licensing agreement with Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, United States to manufacture single-dose intranasal vaccine for the coronavirus, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.

Bharat Biotech owns the rights to distribute the vaccine in all markets except the United States, Japan and Europe, the company announced. United States-based Precision Virologics has also obtained rights to manufacture the vaccine.

The Phase-1 trials will take place in the Washington University School of Medicine’s vaccine and treatment evaluation unit. Bharat Biotech will pursue next stages of clinical trials in India after getting regulatory approval. It will also manufacture large doses of the vaccine at its GMP facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.

“We are proud to collaborate on this innovative vaccine,” Bharat Biotech chairperson and Managing Director Dr Krishna Ella said. “We envision that we will scale this vaccine to one billion doses. Individuals can be vaccinated by a single dose regimen.”

Ella said the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company has much needed experience in viral vaccines, manufacturing capabilities, and distribution. “It is prudent for Bharat Biotech to be involved in diverse but tenable projects to provide a much-needed vaccine against Covid-19 that reaches all citizens of the world,” he added. Ella said the company will manufacture 100 crore doses of the vaccine.

The intranasal vaccine has shown very positive effects in mice, according to Bharat Biotech. The company said an intranasal vaccine will not only be simpler to administer, but will reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles and syringes, thus bringing down the cost of the immunisation programme, Mint reported.

“The licensing agreements will lead to rapid clinical development, following the intranasal vaccine candidate having shown unprecedented levels of protection in mouse studies,” Bharat Biotech and Precision Virologics said in a joint statement. “This technology and data recently was published in Cell and Nature [journal].”

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine is already under human clinical trial stage in India. Earlier this month, the company said the trials of the vaccine on animals had been successful.

No vaccine has yet been approved for commercial use against the coronavirus, but over a dozen vaccines from more than 100 candidates globally are being tested in humans.

India’s coronavirus count rose to 56.46 lakh on Wednesday after the health ministry reported a rise of 83,347 new cases in 24 hours. The toll breached the 90,000-mark, with 1,085 more deaths. More than 45 lakh people have recovered from the virus in India. The country’s mortality rate is 1.59%.

Follow today’s live updates on Covid-19 here