COVID-19 vaccine trial

Image: Adobe Stock

SA to hold new trial for ‘pill based’ COVID-19 vaccine

Would you take a tablet vaccine? A US company will run a trial in South Africa for its new ‘pill based’ oral COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine trial

Image: Adobe Stock

Just over 30% of all South African adults are fully vaccinated. That’s nowhere near enough. It’s also far short of the government’s target of reaching 70% before the end of the year. That’s clearly not going to happen. But one thing that is happening, is another COVID-19 vaccine trial.

US pharmaceuticals company Oramed, has been given the green light to begin a Phase 1 trial of its new oral “pill-based” COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine trial: Ready for pill based vaccines?

Oramed Pharmaceuticals confirmed on Friday that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has given permission for the trial to go ahead.

The trial will be run in Johannesburg and see just 24 volunteers take the company pill vaccine. Oramed told the Sunday Times that results from the trial are expected halfway through next year.

Pills are easier to swallow than needles

With our country’s low vaccine rates, experts believe that encouraging people to take a pill-based vaccine, will be a lot easier. Especially when things like fear of needles are factored in.

Any successful pill-based vaccines will also be easier to store and transport. Some of the current vaccines require storage at ultracold temperatures.

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Oramed is not the first-ever oral COVID-19 vaccine to be trialed on our shores though. A phase 1 trial was recently completed in Khayelitsha in Cape Town. That was run by ImmunityBio, that’s the company owned by SA-born billionaire Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.

So how do these oral COVID-19 vaccines work? According to Oramed, its candidate vaccine could potentially offer lasting immunity. It targets three COVID virus surface proteins. If Oramed’s vaccine makes it through and passes Phase 2 trials, the company says it will greenlight it for production.