Thailand’s first plant-based Covid-19 vaccine to be adjusted to fight against Omicron
The locally-made Baiya Covid-19 vaccine, which is currently undergoing human trials, can be adjusted to fight against the Omicron variant, Dr Waranyu Pooncharoen, co-founder and chief technology officer of Baiya Phytopharm, said on Thursday.
The Baiya vaccine uses a genetically engineered tobacco extract to trigger an immune response against Covid-19.
“The first generation of Baiya vaccine has already been injected in volunteers aged between 18 to 60 and nobody has shown any severe side effects so far. We are now waiting for the result of immunity stimulation among recipients,” he said.
“The second generation of the vaccine has been further improved in terms of immunity stimulation and human trials should begin in January.
“Once the results are out, researchers will choose between these two formulae before entering phase two of human trials, which should start in March on a larger group of candidates,” he added.
“Virus mutation does not always mean that existing vaccines will become ineffective,” Waranyu added.
“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,” he said.
The company is expected to launch the vaccine by the end of next year in Asia’s first plant-based vaccine factory located in Chulalongkorn University. The facility is capable of producing as many as 5 million doses per month or up to 60 million doses per year.