Shroff pledges $5m to fund COVID-19 vaccine development

UAE: UAE-based entrepreneur Khurram Shroff has announced that he is joining British biotechnology firm Vaxbio as its strategic advisor while the company aims to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Shroff, who is chairman of Dubai-based investment firm IBC Group Limited and the general partner of Gallery Suites Vacation Rentals, is investing $5 million in Vaxbio. The company specialises in the research and development of affordable vaccines, clones and innovative biologicals, as well as the development, communication, execution and sustainability of its corporate initiatives.

Moreover, Vaxbio works to research live viral vaccines. By gaining early access to coronavirus data, scientists will be able to  work with experts to sequence and ultimately design a vaccine methodology that could help to reduce the spread of the global pandemic.

The vaccine is currently in the works, with tests being initially carried out on animals to diagnose its potential effectiveness on humans and detect any possible side effects that could occur.

Speaking to Arabian Business, Shroff said Vaxbio is aiming to progress to Clinical one and Clinical two trials as soon as possible, so that the vaccine can be developed and reach production stage by the summer.

He has been consulting with Dr Gaurav Gupta, one of the directors of Vaxbio and senior researcher in the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, who has played an integral role in the research and development of the vaccine.

Shroff said: “Dr Gupta’s research at the University of Oxford gave him early access to the sequencing of the coronavirus.

“They have devised a formulation that will be affordable. It will cost up to 50 US cents per dose, which will allow for the production of the vaccine in batches of 20 million.

“This will enable us to provide assistance to several countries, at a national scale, within a week. We should be ready with the vaccine in the summer, especially if we get fast-tracked by the British Patent Office, and are adequately supported by resources,” he added.

Shroff also recently financially backed the investment firm Medical Resource Acquisition Group, which focuses on disruptive medical technologies in order to bring dialysis solutions to the Middle East, China and India.