TRENTON, Canada: Canadian drug company Medicago said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) that it has developed a vaccine that stimulates antibody and cellular immune responses against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in 100 percent of trial participants.
The results prompted optimism from the Quebec-based company.
“They’re even better than we had hoped,” Nathalie Landry, vice president of Medicago’s scientific and medical affairs, said in a news release. “When we talk about neutralizing responses, we say it’s quite remarkable, especially when we compare with a subject that recovered from the disease.”
But there will be no lineups to receive the vaccine anytime soon since it is phase 1 of 3 that the vaccine must be subjected to before being made available to the public, hopefully next year, the company said.
The Canadian government ordered 76 million doses of the vaccine should it prove effective and provided $173 million for research to Medicago.
Two doses of the adjuvanted vaccine “induced robust neutralizing antibody and cellular immune responses which is encouraging and support further clinical evaluation,” Landry said, explaining that antibodies “neutralize the virus.”
An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response.
When the adjuvant used in GlaxoSmithKline trial was added to their vaccine, and two doses were administered in the phase 1 to the 180 adults aged 18 to 55, the antibodies that protect against the coronavirus rose to levels that exceeded those in people who recovered from the disease, Landry said.
The dosage of the adjuvanted vaccine administered was small and that means the vaccine can be produced in larger quantities.
“We need only 3.75 micrograms to get a very significant level of antibody and cellular immune responses,” Landry said.
The first phase also showed that participants had no adverse reactions to the vaccine.
Unlike most vaccines going through trials with other pharmaceutical firms, the Medicago product is plant-based and uses coronavirus-like particles to prompt an immune response without subjecting participants to an actual dose of the virus.
The antigen is manufactured by the introduction to the plant of a genetic code which stimulates the plant to create it as “if it was its own,” Landry said.
Phase 2 will involve more participants in a wider range of age groups, 18 to 64. Provided the vaccine passes the second stage hurdle, the final phase 3 will involve 30,000 participants from all across the world.
“Why we need to go global is that to prove the efficacy of the vaccine, you need to go in regions where the virus is circulating,” Landry said.
As of Tuesday, Canada had 272,034 coronavirus cases and 10,620 deaths, according to figures from US-based Johns Hopkins University, which keeps a worldwide running total.
The virus has surged recently, with Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, experiencing a record high of 1,388 infections on Tuesday.Officials in the 10 provinces are considering reintroducing measures or instituting new restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus. SOVEREIGNPH AND ANADOLU AGENCY