Oramed’s jab-free oral Covid-19 vaccine is one of many in the form of pills, powders, or sprays that may hit the market in the next few years, which could dramatically expand vaccine rollout and uptake.
An Israeli team is preparing to start trials of what could be the first Covid-19 vaccine pill. The vaccine consists of a virus-like particle, essentially a virus which is almost identical to SARS CoV-2 on the outside but contains no genetic material and cannot reproduce inside the body.
Like all marketed vaccines, Oramed’s pill targets the spike protein that allows the virus to enter human cells, and which often mutates to give rise to potentially dangerous viral variants. But the vaccine also targets two other proteins on the surface of the virus that mutate more slowly in order to better protect against viral variants. All being well, their candidate could go through approvals in the first half of next year.
Prabuddha Kundu, the co-founder and Managing Director of Premas, said that the vaccine triggered the production of antibodies against all protein antigens in preclinical studies. “This has a huge potential against the viral strains that have the spike protein mutating. With the three antigens, we believe that our vaccine would be more effective and the data is being generated.”
How many pills of Oramed’s oral vaccine would be needed to build an effective immunity against Covid-19 will be clarified during the upcoming clinical trials, Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron added. Proper dosing, according to the scientists, is also the biggest challenge they currently face.
Currently, there are at least 10 Covid-19 vaccines in clinical development worldwide that are delivered to the nose, mouth, or gut. Alongside the Oramed-Premas team, many developers see a major potential advantage in stimulating immunity in the mouth, nose, gut, and other organs lined with mucous membranes. Since these are the most common points of entry of the Covid-19 virus, creating a strong local immune response there could nip the infection in the bud.