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Plant-based Baiya vaccine can be adjusted for Omicron variant

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Baiya Phytopharm says their vaccine can be adjusted to fight Omicron. (via Facebook Baiya Phytopharm)

Baiya Phytopharm says that the plant-based Covid-19 vaccine they have been developing in Thailand can be adjusted to be effective against the Omicron variant. The vaccine is currently in the middle of the human trials phase of testing and the Chief Technology Officer says the vaccine formula can be modified to fight Omicron.

Baiya has developed a genetically engineered tobacco extract to deliver protection from Covid-19. The vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine, where a harmless S portion of the virus is used and recognized by the human body which then develops antibodies. The S proteins in the subunit vaccine are transplanted onto tobacco leaves to cultivate and then is extracted to produce vaccines.

The CTO, who is also a co-founder of Baiya Phytopharm, says that their first vaccine has not shown any severe side effects and results are pending for human testing on the efficacy against Covid-19. They are already developing a second generation of the vaccine which Baiya says marks an improvement in the effectiveness of the immunity the vaccine could provide.

Baiya expects second-generation testing to launch in January and by March they expect to enter phase 2 of human trials where they will choose which vaccine formula to move forward with. The CTO says that the mutations that lead to Covid-19 variants like the Omicron strain do not necessarily make vaccines ineffective and that they are able to fine-tune their formula relatively quickly.

“Our researchers are testing the vaccine’s efficiency in animals infected with the Omicron variant and will adjust the protein formula of the vaccine to make it more responsive against the new variant. The process will not take long as only parts of the tobacco gene need to be altered, while the manufacturing process will remain largely the same.”

When the vaccine is adjusted, tested, and ready for market, they will be able to produce 5 million per month at a factory at Chulalongkorn University, the first plant-based vaccine factory in Asia. But the full rollout is not expected until late in 2022.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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