Speed Reads

Solving COVID

The race is on to create an oral COVID-19 vaccine

The Israeli-American pharmaceutical company Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. is expecting to launch a clinical human trial for an oral COVID-19 vaccine in the second quarter of 2021, The Jerusalem Post reports.

CEO Nadav Kidron said an oral vaccine could "eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccines themselves at home." He added that they could especially come in handy if yearly COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended, like the flu shot, but argued that because the candidate targets three structural proteins on the virus, rather than the single spike protein, it "should be much more resistant to COVID-19 variants." Kidron also said it will be cheaper to produce and easier to store than vaccines that are administered via shot.

Oramed has already completed a pilot animal study and found the vaccine produced coronavirus antibodies, JPost reports.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based biotech company Vaxart is also working on an oral COVID-19 vaccine. They've completed Phase 1 human clinical trials — in February, the company said neutralizing antibodies were not detected after one dose, but the vaccine did produce a strong T-cell immune response. Vaxart is now preparing a Phase 2 "dose-ranging study," and an efficacy study may take place later in the year.

Vaccines are typically synonymous with needles, but there are examples of oral vaccinations, including polio, throughout history. In the United States, only rotavirus, adenovirus, cholera, and typhoid vaccines are administered orally. Read more at The Jerusalem Post and WJLA.