Second locally produced Covid-19 vaccine proves effective in monkey trials

PHOTO: Dr Thiravat Hemachudha - Bright Today

A doctor at Chulalongkorn University yesterday announced that announced tests of a new locally produced Covid-19 vaccine on monkeys have proven successful. The head of the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre, Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, says the latest vaccine, which uses proteins from tobacco leaves, was been tested on mice and monkeys with satisfactory results and will now go through a purification process before being tested in humans. The vaccine is developed by a Thai company named “Bai Ya”.

“This vaccine is not the same as the one being developed by physicians at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine. This vaccine, made with proteins from a special type of tobacco leaf, is easy and cheap to produce, even at an industrial scale. Also, there will be no patent-related problems with this approach.”

Thiravat explained that the vaccine is made by integrating the virus’ DNA into tobacco leaves. The plant responds to the DNA and produces proteins about a week later, which are extracted to make the vaccine. Thiravat says the vaccine not only produces antibodies but can also stimulate cells to produce antibodies themselves when meeting the same virus.

According to the doctor, Bai Ya is in talks with the National Vaccine Institute to see whether it’s ready to collaborate in the purification process of the potential vaccine.If the NVI agrees, the drug will be ready for human trials in 3 months. If not, a new factory will have to be built, delaying human trials by 9 months.

After human trials, the vaccine’s manufacturing at an industrial scale could take place quickly, Thiravat says. He added that tobacco leaves can be grown to produce over 10 million doses of the vaccine in a single month.

The vaccine is expected to be effective with Covid-19 and other seasonal and emerging infectious diseases as well.

But, Thiravat pointed out, there are not enough Covid-19 patients in Thailand for human trials, and that side effects must be considered.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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