First plant-based coronavirus vaccine shows ‘positive’ results, say drugmakers

“The plants that are used simply act as bioreactors to produce the antigen.”

Pharmaceutical companies Medicago and GlaxoSmithKline announced on Tuesday “positive efficacy and safety results” from a global trial using what they say is the world’s first plant-based coronavirus vaccine, the Washington Post reports.

The late-stage trial, which studied 24,000 adults across six countries, found that the overall efficacy rate of the vaccine candidate was 71 percent, rising to 75.3 percent against “COVID-19 of any severity for the globally dominant Delta variant.” However, the trial did not include the newly identified omicron variant.

The global Phase 3 placebo-controlled efficacy study used Canada-based Medicago’s plant-based vaccine in combination with British drugmaker GSK’s pandemic adjuvant, an ingredient that works to boost the immune response and efficacy of others’ vaccines.

It does not yet have a brand name, the companies said, but is currently referred to as “CoVLP.”

Plant-based vegan and vegetarian alternatives in food and materials markets have become increasingly popular globally, as consumers choose them for environmental or religious reasons, but Brian Ward, medical officer at Medicago, told The Washington Post that it would not be appropriate to categorize the vaccine candidate as such: “The plants that are used simply act as bioreactors to produce the antigen.”

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