Oravax Medical, a subsidiary of Jerusalem-based Oramed Pharmaceuticals, has received a green light to begin the study from the Institutional Review Board at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
The team is now waiting for approval from the Health Ministry, which is expected within a few weeks.
Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron told The Jerusalem Post that an oral vaccine would be faster, cheaper and easier to manufacture than vaccines that are injected.
What’s more, it could be easily distributed to low-and middle-income countries. ‘An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home,’ he said.
‘While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable in the case that a COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended annually like the standard flu shot.’
The technology is the same that the company is using to develop insulin capsules for type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients Nadav Kidron told The Jerusalem Post. Kidron explained the trials are initially being conducted as a ‘proof of concept’ rather than testing efficacy.
Researchers are recruiting 24 unvaccinated volunteers with half receiving one pill and the other half two pills.
The team will analyze safety and then take participants’ blood samples to measure antibody levels.
If results prove successful, the trial will move into Phase III when the capsules will be tested against a placebo.
‘The idea here is that we want to show proof of concept: that it works for people,’ Kidron told The Jerusalem Post.
‘I pray and hope that we will. Imagine that we could give someone an oral vaccine and they are vaccinated. This would be a revolution for the entire world.’
The Oravax vaccine targets three proteins on the virus rather then the single spike protein that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines target.
Kidron says this should help the pill be much more effective against variant, which often have mutations on the spike protein.
‘This vaccine should be much more resistant to COVID-19 variants,’ he told The Jerusalem Post.
‘Even if the virus gets through one line, there is a second line, and if through the second line, there is a third.’
The pill can be shipped in refrigeration cooler and even be stored at room temperature, unlike other COVID-19.
What’s more, it would not need to be administered by a health professional, making it easy to distribute in schools, offices and other businesses.
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