Kuala Lumpur–Ho Wah Genting Bhd (HWGB) is set to begin production, distribution of Covid-19 vaccine derived from existing oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) once the Phase IV trials are successful.
HWGB Biotech Sdn Bhd (HWGB Biotech) general manager, medical & pharmaceutical research Dr Yaman Walid Kassab said, as the world searches for a way to end the coronavirus pandemic, the race is on to find and produce a vaccine.
“The type of production facilities needed will depend on which kind of vaccine turns out to work best,” he said in a statement.
To recap, HWGB wholly-owned subsidiary HWGB Biotech had signed an agreement to collaborate with US-based E-Mo Biology Inc (EBI) in developing a preventive Covid-19 vaccine through Phase IV clinical trials based on the use of OPVs.
This collaboration involves research and development, testing, registration, manufacturing and commercialisation of five provisional patent applications.
The related clinical trial has gained the approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Unlike other vaccines, OPV are administered orally and do not require health professionals or sterile needle syringes.
As such, OPV are easy to administer in mass vaccination campaigns as there are over one billion doses of OPV currently produced and used annually in more than 140 countries.
Dr Yaman said unlike normal production cycle by pharmaceutical companies to invest millions in setting up facilities to produce new vaccines, production plants for poliovirus vaccine are readily available in Asia.
Explaining on how OPV could be an effective treatment for Covid-19, Dr Yaman said the core fact is that both the poliovirus and coronavirus are positive-strand ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses, and analysis has demonstrated that there is structural similarities between poliovirus and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
He also said that OPV is safe, relatively affordable and can be administered easily, easily available within the medical industry and well accepted by most public health programmes.
Further, OPV are extremely safe and effective, offering long-lasting protection against targeted virus and only one dose is sufficient for the vaccine to take effect.
Interestingly, most Covid-19 vaccines currently in development require a strict temperature-controlled environment of -70°C, unlike the poliovirus vaccine that can be stored at 4-8°C. OPV does not require a high-performing active thermal shipper.
Furthermore, Dr Yaman pointed out that there are multiple advantages to using OPV, as it has a strong safety record, the existence of more than one serotype that could be used sequentially to prolong protection, low cost, ease of administration, and easy transportation as well as availability.
(Article source: New Straits Times / HWGB)