Ocugen (OCGN 1.32%) stock was up by more than 7.5% as of 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday after the government of India announced that it would distribute free booster doses of the Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine to all adults who want them for 75 days starting on Friday.
Ocugen itself didn't announce any news. But the market is likely reacting positively to the announcement of the program in India because the biotech has licensing rights to Covaxin in North America.
Ocugen won't realize any revenue from India's new booster campaign. All of those sales will go to its Indian collaborator, Bharat Biotech. Still, it'll mean that Covaxin will be used in an even wider population than before, which could yield more evidence that it is safe and effective.
That might be useful in convincing people who haven't yet been vaccinated to get inoculated with it, assuming it can get approval from U.S. health regulators. Covaxin is a traditional whole-virion inactivated virus vaccine.
Ocugen has no revenue and it isn't profitable, so the stakes in its effort to commercialize its licensed vaccine in a market where it's allowed to sell it are quite high. The World Health Organization has already given Covaxin the green light for emergency use, so the chances are good that other regulators will clear it for use, but there are no guarantees.
Ocugen is currently performing a U.S.-based phase 2/3 clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine in the hopes that the data will reflect the same favorable efficacy and safety profile it displayed during trials in India. The new study, which is expected to conclude in autumn 2023, is intended to satisfy the Food and Drug Administration and clear the way for the regulator to approve Covaxin for use in the U.S.