A Plant-Based Vaccine Could Soon Hit the Market

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The first mRNA vaccine approved for human use was developed during the pandemic, and now researchers are working on another first: a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers at Quebec-based biotechnology company Medicago and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline have developed a plant-based vaccine for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And their recently reported interim findings from phase 2 clinical trials look promising. The vaccine uses a plant called Nicotiana benthamiana, which is a relative of the tobacco plant.

Like other COVID-19 vaccines, the plant-based option is a two-dose shot given 21 days apart.

Results of Medicago’s trials so far showed subjects developed a strong antibody response after receiving the jab—“about 10 times higher than those seen in people recovering from natural disease,” Brian Ward, MD, Medicago’s chief medical officer, tells Verywell. “And those antibody [measurements] are higher than almost all of the other vaccines that have been reported to date.”

The phase 3 trial of the plant-based vaccine candidate launched in March, and Medicago is recruiting subjects across the world including in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation for the vaccine, the company says, and Canada’s health agency has started a review process.

“The whole company has been working flat-out since February last year and we’re within a couple of months of knowing how well this vaccine will work,” Ward says. “It works in monkeys, it makes a great immune response, and it seems to be very safe to give to people.”

New COVID Test Initiatives Show Why Testing Still Matters

•Many Experts emphasize COVID-19 testing is still important to curb the spread of the virus.

•While antigen tests (rapid tests) are not as accurate as molecular (lab-based) tests, experts concede their ease of use and cheaper cost make them an important testing option.

(Source: Very Well Health News)