Local Covid-19 vaccine proves a success in trials on monkeys

Local Covid-19 vaccine proves a success in trials on monkeys

Thiravat: Developing a vaccine from tobacco.
Thiravat: Developing a vaccine from tobacco.

A Chulalongkorn University doctor on Saturday announced tests of new locally produced Covid-19 vaccines on monkeys had proved successful.

Head of the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre, Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, said the latest vaccine, using proteins from tobacco leaves, had been tested on mice and monkeys with satisfactory results and will now go through a purification process before it is tested in human trials.

The vaccine is developed by a Thai company named "Bai Ya" according to Dr Thiravat.

"This vaccine is not the same as the one being developed by physicians at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine. This vaccine, made with proteins from a special type of tobacco leaf, is easy and cheap to produce, even at an industrial scale. Also, there will be no patent-related problems with this approach," he said.

The doctor explained the vaccine is produced by integrating the virus' DNA into tobacco leaves. The plant responds to the DNA and produces proteins about a week later. These proteins are extracted to make the vaccine.

Dr Thiravat said the vaccine not only produces antibodies but can also stimulate T cells to produce antibodies themselves when meeting the same virus.

According to the doctor, the company is in talks with the National Vaccine Institute (NVI) to see if it is ready to collaborate in the purification process of the vaccine candidate. If the NVI agrees to take part, the vaccine will be ready for human trials in three months.

If not, a new plant will have to be built, delaying human trials by nine months.

After human trials, the vaccine's manufacturing at an industrial scale would take place quickly, the doctor said. He added the tobacco leaves can grow to produce over 10 million doses of the vaccine in one month.

The vaccine is expected to be effective with other seasonal and emerging infectious diseases.

However, he pointed out there are not enough Covid-19 patients in Thailand for human trials and to consider the side effects.


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