Canada has become the first country to allow the use of a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine.
Canadian regulators said Thursday that Medicago’s two-dose vaccine can be given to adults ages 18 to 64, but said there are too few data on shots in people 65 and older.
The decision was based on a study of 24,000 adults who found that the vaccine was 71% effective in preventing COVID-19 – even though that was before the omicron variant appeared. The side effects were mild, including fever and fatigue.
Medicago uses plants as living factories to grow virus-like particles that mimic the tip protein that covers the coronavirus. The particles are removed from the leaves of the plants and cleaned. Another ingredient, an immune-boosting chemical called an adjuvant manufactured by UK partner GlaxoSmithKline, is added to the shots.
While several COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out around the world, global health authorities are looking for additional candidates in hopes of increasing the worldwide supply.
Quebec City-based Medicago is developing plant-based vaccines against several other diseases, and the COVID-19 vaccine may help increase interest in this new method of medicinal production.
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