covid-19 vaccine

While COVID-19 vaccines have been able to greatly reduce infections and hospitalisation, it is now apparent that its protection does not last forever, potentially requiring regular boosters as the world moves into an endemic phase. Even with the current booster campaign, the government is already mulling on a fourth dose for better efficacy.

Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science are developing something that might do away with the need for an annual COVID-19 jab; a vaccine that gives lifetime protection, modelled after the smallpox vaccine.

Michinori Kohara tokyo japan vaccine
Michinori Kohara, emeritus researcher at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science [Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science]

The smallpox vaccine, developed in 1796, remains the only vaccine that has successfully eradicated an infectious disease, with the last known case being a patient in Somalia in 1977. Michinori Kohara, emeritus investigator at the Tokyo institution, has been working for over three decades on the vaccinia virus used in the smallpox vaccine.

Kohara has been working with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases since April 2020 to develop a recombinant vaccinia virus containing the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which he says can produce potent neutralising antibodies within a week of inoculation. He also added that it is able to retain its efficacy for more than 20 months with just one shot.

tokyo japan covid-19 vaccine
[Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science]

Japanese drugmaker Nobelpharma Co. is planning to conduct first and second phases of clinical trials of Kohara’s vaccine in Japan within the first half of 2023. If these trials are a success, the final phase clinical trial will start immediately and will be commercialised by 2024 at the earliest.

(Source: Japan Times)

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