Japan is working on COVID-19 vaccine that provides lifelong immunity

Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Sciences are working on a COVID-19 vaccine that not only provides lifelong immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but could also be carried at room temperature to harsh corners. remote from the world, The Japan Times reported.

As infections caused by the Omicron variant increase across the world, countries may soon be faced with the difficult choice of imposing strict lockdowns or letting the variant cross the population. Vaccinations reduce the severity of the disease but are ineffective in stopping the spread of the highly transmissible infection. As vaccine makers rush to develop variant-specific booster doses that could become the norm in this pandemic that will soon enter its third calendar year, the news of a single vaccine that can last a lifetime is emerging. welcome.

The vaccine developed by Michinori Kohara and her team of researchers are using the most effective vaccine in history, one against smallpox. The team uses a strain of vaccinia virus that does not cause disease but has replaced some of its protein components with those of the spike protein SARS-CoV-2.

Although the recombination of the spike protein with a different delivery mechanism is a strategy commonly used in vaccine design nowadays, Kohara is confident that his vaccine can not only deliver strong neutralizing antibodies with a single dose. , but also induce strong cellular immunity which offers long-term protection. .

Experiments in mice showed that vaccinated mice maintained high antibody levels for more than 20 months or their average lifespan, the Japan Times reported. When two doses were given, three weeks apart, the neutralizing antibodies increased tenfold, according to the report.

Similar experiments in macaques showed that the vaccine protected them from infection because virus levels in vaccinated macaques remained below detection limits seven days after becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Kohara also told the outlet that the vaccine would have the added benefit of producing fewer side effects compared to other vaccines that have received emergency use permissions. The non-pathogenic strain used in the vaccine design is unable to replicate in mammals and would produce fewer side reactions, Kohara said.

Researchers tested the vaccine against the four previously reported coronavirus variants of concern and found it to be effective. Kohara told the outlet he expects it to work against Omicron as well while saying the vaccine could be stored at room temperature, making it easy to transport and administer in developing countries with a climate. tropical.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Sciences has no previous experience in marketing a vaccine and has hired national drug maker Nobelpharma Co to conduct it in clinical trials. The first and second phases of human clinical trials are not expected to start until 2023, followed by a larger phase trial immediately if no efficacy and safety concerns arise. If all goes well, the vaccine could be commercially available from 2024, at the earliest, the Japan Times reported.