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Ocugen CEO on vaccine hesitancy in the U.S.

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Ocugen CEO Shankar Musunuri and Yahoo Finance's Julie Hyman discuss a range of topics around the company's work on a COVID-19 vaccine as well as vaccine distribution and hesitancy.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: One of the other sort of subgroups that you tend to see within the memes is biotechs. And this has been a group that has long drawn attention from retail traders, those seeking potential big upside. Because when these companies have a discovery, it can provide a lot of that. The founder and CEO of Ocugen is joining us now. Shankar Musunuri is with us. And Shankar, Ocugen is developing a COVID vaccine-- it is called Covaxin-- along with a partner in India, Bharat Biotech.

Talk to me about where you all are. Because you have opted not to seek emergency use authorization here in the US. You have had some positive study results. What's the current status?

SHANKAR MUSUNURI: Thank you for having me, Julie. [INAUDIBLE] talk about Ocugen [INAUDIBLE] today. [INAUDIBLE] focused on breakthrough gene therapies that could be helpful for rare diseases, as well as diseases that impact millions globally. And when this pandemic came through, we couldn't stand on the sidelines. Many of us, including some of [INAUDIBLE] team, worked in large pharma, had experience in vaccines. [INAUDIBLE] and we wanted to do something about it. [INAUDIBLE] in the US and Canada, North America.

[INAUDIBLE] vaccine, it has a broad spectrum immune response. And phase three clinical trials, it showed, it demonstrated solid safety and efficacy, including efficacy on Delta variant, which is very unique. Because this is the only vaccine, which has efficacy against Delta variant from a controlled clinical trial. And here we are with that. We are currently working with FDA on the regulatory pathway. And we have recently completed our submission to Canada. We're waiting for their decision.

As soon as we get the regulatory path underway and we get authorizations or approval, we are very eager and excited to provide this option, this differentiated option, to the markets in North America.

JULIE HYMAN: And what do you see as your biggest market here? Obviously, a lot of reach of vaccine here in the United States, and in Canada to some extent as well. A lot of availability. What do you see as your primary market or markets?

SHANKAR MUSUNURI: [INAUDIBLE] Once again, if you look at the Delta variant, how it's ravaging through globally, that's a great concern to everyone. In fact, I got personally attached to this, and going into personally my mom a few months ago, thank God I got her the first shot of the vaccine. And she got COVID. And she's close to 80. And thank God she recovered fully. And again, vaccinations [INAUDIBLE] think the vaccine hesitancy is a grave concern in North America too.

And how do you overcome that? I think if you provide multiple options, including options [INAUDIBLE] platform similar to polio vaccine, which is traditional. And many people with vaccine hesitancy [INAUDIBLE]. Also the vaccine has efficacy against Delta variant from a controlled [INAUDIBLE] trial. [INAUDIBLE]. So following this option could hopefully promote and also improve rates, vaccination rates, among [INAUDIBLE] to control the pandemic.

JULIE HYMAN: Shankar, unfortunately we are having a little bit of audio problem. But we would love to have you back very, very soon. And hopefully we can get that worked out. And we can have a longer conversation. But for now we're going to say thank you to Shankar Musunuri of Ocugen. I appreciate your time, sir.