Researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Sciences are working on a COVID-19 vaccine that not only provides lifelong immunity to the SARSCoV2 virus, but could also be transported at room temperature to far corners of the world, the Japan Times reported. .
As infections caused by Omicron variant on the rise around the world, countries may soon be faced with the difficult choice of imposing strict lock down or letting the variant run through population. Vaccinations reduce the severity of the disease but are ineffective in stopping the spread of the virus. highly transmissible infection. As vaccine manufacturers rush to develop variant-specific booster doses that could become the norm in this pandemic soon enter into its third calendar year, news of a single vaccine that can last a lifetime is very welcome.
The vaccine developed by Michinori Koha & his team of researchers uses the most effective vaccine used in history, that against smallpox. The team uses a strain of vaccine virus that does not cause disease but has replaced some of its protein components with those from spike protein SARSCoV2.
Although the recombination of the spike protein with a different delivery mechanism is common-strategy used in vaccine design now a days, Kohara is confident that his vaccine can not only deliver strong neutralizing antibodies with a single dose, but also induce strong cellullar immunity and long term protection.
Experiments in mice showed that the vaccinated mice maintained high levels of antibodies for more than 20 months or their lifespan, the Japan Times reported. When 2 doses were given, 3 weeks apart, the neutralizing antibodies increased tenfold, according to the report.
Same type of experiments done in macaques have shown that the vaccine protects them from infection while virus levels in vaccinated macaques remained below the detection limit, 7 days after being infected with coronaviruses.
Kohara also told news outlet that the vaccine would offer the added benefit of producing fewer side effects than other vaccines that have received clearances for emergency use. The non-pathogenic strain used in vaccine design is unable to replicate in mammals & would produce fewer side reactions, Kohara said.
Researchers tested the vaccine against all four previously reported coronavirus variants & found it to be effective. Kohara told the media that he expects it to work against Omicron as well, also stating that vaccine could be stored at room temperature, easy to transport & administer in developing countries with tropical-climates.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Sciences has no experience in commercialising a vaccine & has signed-up domestic drug maker Nobelpharma Co. to submit it for clinical trials. The 1st & 2nd phases of human clinical trials studies are expected to begin only 2023 followed by a larger phase trial immediately if no efficiency & safety concern the pop-up. Hopefully the COVID-19 vaccine could be commercially available as early as 2024, if everything goes well, the Japan Times reported.