Israeli Medical Breakthrough? World’s first at-home, oral COVID-19 vaccine

Instead of long lines, needles, and weeks of waiting, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine soon could be as easy as taking a one-dose capsule at home, thanks to the innovation of an Israeli-American pharmaceutical company.

Over the weekend, Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced a joint venture with an India-based company, Premas Biotech, to develop a novel oral vaccine against COVID-19. Oravax Medical Inc. will combine Oramed’s proprietary POD™ oral delivery technology which was developed at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Israel, and Premas’s cutting-edge vaccine technology.

Proteins are the basis of every cell and provide a key in fighting many diseases. Through POD™ (Protein Oral Delivery) technology, Oramed claims to have found a way past the acid and enzymes in the digestive system to deliver protein-based drugs safely and effectively.

The Oravax vaccine is designed to target three structural proteins on the COVID-19 virus, instead of the single spike protein targeted by Pfizer and Moderna. This could make the vaccine more effective in protecting against even emerging virus strains, the company claims.

In a pilot study on animals, the Oravax vaccine promoted systemic immunity, providing high levels of antibodies, especially those that protect the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracks.

“An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home. 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,” said Nadav Kidron, CEO of Oramed.

Another bonus is that the Oravax vaccine does not have to be stored at below-freezing temperatures, which could improve COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts around the world. The company expects to have the Oravax vaccine in Phase 1 clinical trials sometime before the end of June 2021.

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