The development of the coronavirus vaccine in such a short time is already quite a groundbreaking achievement but it seems that an Israeli-American pharmaceutical company wants to top that. Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc., has announced that it will soon launch its Phase I clinical trials for an oral COVID-19 vaccine.
This is currently the first oral vaccine that’s designed to combat Covid-19. To develop it, Oramed joined forces with India-based Premas Biotech and created a new company, Oravax Medical Inc. Initially, Oramed was in the midst of a Phase III clinical trial that replaces an injection with oral administration for a number of protein-based therapies. Premas, on the other hand, was working on a vaccine for the coronavirus since March.
Upon realizing the potential of creating an orally administered vaccine, the two companies joined together and started developing the drug even further.
“An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home,” Oramed CEO Nadav Kirdon tells The Jerusalem Post. “While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable in the case that a COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended annually like the standard flu shot.”
Orally administered drugs have a history of fewer side effects and are easily stored compared to the current vaccines of today that require incredibly cold temperatures for storage. This, theoretically, should not only make it easier to distribute but should also cut down the cost making it more accessible to a lot more people. And of course, oral vaccines won’t need to be administered by doctors or nurses either.
The Oravex vaccine works by targetting three structural proteins of the novel coronavirus. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been designed to target just one single spik protein. Kidron says that this should make the drug more resistant to other COVID-19 variants. Additionally, it is a yeast-based vaccine that no only makes it more affordable to produce but quicker too.
The Phase I clinical study is expected to launch in the second quarter of 2021. Oravex is also applying for trials in various countries including the US, Europe, Mexico, and Israel. Kidron also mentions that the company is also targetting Africa as it could be very beneficial. Phase 1 human trial data is expected to available in three months.