Israel's oral COVID vaccine gets greenlight for trial in South Africa

“An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, enabling people to administer the vaccine themselves."

 Illustrative photo shows various medicine pills in their original packaging in Brussels, Belgium August 9, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
Illustrative photo shows various medicine pills in their original packaging in Brussels, Belgium August 9, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)

Israel’s Oravax Medical announced Friday that it has received clearance from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority to begin enrolling volunteers for a Phase I clinical trial of its novel oral COVID-19 vaccine.

Oravax Medical is the subsidiary of Oramed Pharmaceuticals, run by Israeli CEO Nadav Kidron. The company was founded based on technology developed by Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Medical Center.

“We believe that Oravax’s oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate could offer an exciting potential solution to the COVID pandemic, whether as a booster or for the unvaccinated,” Kidron said. “An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to administer the vaccine themselves at home.”

He said that following the Phase I trial, it is the company’s intention to move directly into a Phase II/III trial and an appeal for an emergency use approval in relevant countries.

Part of the Phase I trial is also supposed to take place in Israel, but the company is waiting on final approval from the Health Ministry.

The Oravax Medical vaccine is based on Oramed’s “POD” oral delivery technology and Premas’s vaccine technology. Oramed’s technology can be used to orally administer a number of protein-based therapies, which would otherwise be delivered by injection. Premas has been working on developing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus since March.

Oramed Pharmaceuticals CEO Nadav Kidron (credit: Courtesy)Oramed Pharmaceuticals CEO Nadav Kidron (credit: Courtesy)

The Oravax vaccine candidate targets three structural proteins of the novel coronavirus, as opposed to the single spike protein targeted by the current Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Kidron said.

As such, “this vaccine should be much more resistant to COVID-19 variants,” he said. “Even if the virus gets through one line, there is a second line, and if through the second line, there is a third.”