Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) is planning to develop its next-generation COVID-19 vaccine by using a sequence of the Beta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which was first detected in South Africa, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The company’s animal tests showed that a booster shot built on the Beta variant prompted immunity in hamsters against all variants of the virus, it said.
Medigen is seeking to conduct human trials for the vaccine in Taiwan, but it would not necessarily need to conduct phase 1 clinical trials, the earliest stage involving human testing, company spokesman Leo Lee (李思賢) told the Taipei Times by telephone on Friday.
Photo: Billy H.C. Kwok, Bloomberg
The drugmaker would consult with the local drug regulator regarding the protocol for the next round of clinical trials, Lee said.
Medigen in May conducted research on whether a third dose of its current vaccine would bolster immunity against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, the company said.
It administered the doses to 45 participants six months after they received the first two shots, the firm said.
In separate trials on hamsters, the drugmaker tested their immune response to other major variants after receiving three doses, it said.
Medigen said it split the research into five sub-trials: In the first, it gave hamsters two shots developed on the original virus; in the second, it gave them two shots developed on the Beta variant; in the third, it gave “bivalent” vaccines containing both strains; in the fourth, it gave three shots developed on the original virus; and in the fifth, it gave two shots developed on the original virus and an additional shot developed on the Beta variant.
Hamsters in all five groups developed antibodies, while those given a third shot, whether based on the original virus or the Beta variant, had higher antibody levels than those that received only two shots, the company said.
Hamsters that were given two shots developed on the original virus and a third shot based on the Beta variant developed the highest antibody levels, regardless of whether they were infected with the Alpha, Beta, Gamma or Delta variants, the company said.
Viral loads in the lungs and nasal cavities of the hamsters of that group reduced significantly eight weeks after receiving the third shot, it added.
Medigen shares gained 1.65 percent to NT$278 in Taipei trading on Friday.
The stock price has risen 169.9 percent so far this year, Taipei Exchange data showed.
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