Indian biotechnology firm Premas Biotech and Israel-based oral drug delivery systems developer Oramed Pharmaceuticals have jointly developed an oral Covid-19 vaccine.

The new Covid-19 vaccine candidate is a virus like particle (VLP) triple antigen vaccine, which offers triple protection against the SARS CoV-2 virus spike, membrane, and envelope targets.

VLP structure of the vaccine candidate would make it a better candidate for protection across emerging mutations of the coronavirus.

Also, the oral delivery of the vaccine facilitates an enhanced inoculation and simplifies the distribution of the vaccine, as it does not require an injection.

Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron said: “An oral Covid-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, widescale 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.”

In a pilot animal study, a single dose of oral Covid-19 vaccine induced both systemic immunity through Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin A (IgA).

Also, the vaccine candidate showed safety, efficacy and well-tolerated at normal to high doses, and generated high titres of neutralising antibodies.

The two companies, along with other shareholders established a new joint venture, dubbed Oravax Medical, to advance the commercialisation of the vaccine candidate.

Oravax leverages advanced vaccine technology from Premas Biotech and the unique POD oral delivery technology from Oramed Pharmaceuticals.

The clinical trials of the vaccine candidate are expected to begin in the second quarter of 2021.

Premas Biotech co-founder and managing director Prabuddha Kundu said: “Premas’ D-Crypt technology platform with Oramed’s world-leading oral protein delivery platform POD is an excellent example of a true collaboration and can rapidly advance into late-stage clinical trials.

“Oramed’s experience and success in conducting Phase 2 and 3 oral protein trials positions our program very favourably in the race to find an effective oral Covid-19 vaccine that can be administered by anyone anywhere. We are looking forward to sharing clinical data soon.”

Premas Biotech is engaged in developing novel technologies in the areas of infectious diseases, cancer, metabolic disorders and inflammation.