WATCH | Oral Covid-19 vaccines: here is what you need to know

A Covid-19 vaccine product in the form of a tablet will not have to be stored at the low temperatures required by some of the injectable vaccines. Stock photo.
A Covid-19 vaccine product in the form of a tablet will not have to be stored at the low temperatures required by some of the injectable vaccines. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Belcho Nock

A human clinical trial for oral Covid-19 vaccines is set to enter its first phase between April and June this year.

An American pharmaceutical company, Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc, announced it is preparing to launch a clinical trial for what could become the world’s first oral Covid-19 vaccine.

Here is what you need to know:

Joint venture

In a statement the company announced a joint venture with India-based Premas Biotech to develop the oral vaccine.

The vaccine is based on Oramed’s protein oral delivery (POD) technology and Premas’s vaccine technology.

Oramed is a technology pioneer in the field of oral delivery solutions for drugs presently delivered via injection.

The company has completed multiple phase two clinical trials under an investigational new drug application with the US Food and Drug Administration.

Oral vaccine could make distribution easier

The company said it has been working on developing an oral vaccine against Covid-19 since the beginning of this month.

It said the oral delivery of the vaccine could allow for wide-scale inoculation and easier distribution without requiring an injection.

“An oral Covid-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home,” said Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron.

“While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable if a Covid-19 vaccine may be recommended annually, like the standard flu shot.”

Application for trials

According to the company, it completed a pilot animal study and found the vaccine promoted the development of Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and Immunoglobulin A (IgA). 

“The oral vaccine should improve efficacy and take the burden off health-care systems by minimising the cost of training and mobilising health-care personnel, eliminate occupational needle stick injuries and eliminate the biohazardous waste problem.”

Kidron told the Jerusalem Post the company was applying for trials in multiple countries across Africa and Europe, as well as in the US, Israel and Mexico.

Another ‘game-changer’ pill on the cards 

Sunday Times reported Cape Town-based vaccine manufacturer Biovac formed a partnership with Californian cell and immunotherapy product manufacturer ImmunityBio to manufacture the US firms candidate Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine product is being tested in the form of a tablet which, according to Biovac CEO Morena Makhoana, will be a game-changer as it will not have to be stored at the low temperatures required by some of the injectable vaccines.

SA-born billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong is behind the development of the pill and it should be ready by early 2022.

“There are a billion people who wont get vaccinated if we rely on the cold chain,” Soon-Shiong said.

“If those billion people dont get vaccinated and they become infected — especially in places where there is HIV and immune suppression — you will have continuous mutations because the viral evolution will cause this virus to find a way.”


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