By Claire Matthews
A warm COVID-19 vaccine suitable for remote and resource-limited locations lacking access to cold storage supply chains is one step closer to reality.
Scientists from CSIRO in Australia conducted studies to evaluate the effectiveness of a new heat-tolerant COVID-19 vaccine against the virus and its variants.
The warm vaccine was developed by the Indian Institute of Science and biotech company Mynvax. Researchers from India and Australia collaborated on the project.
The findings were published this week in the ACS Infectious Diseases journal. They found the vaccine triggered strong immune responses in mice and protected hamsters from the virus. The vaccine also remained stable at 37ºC for up to a month and at 100ºC for up to 90 minutes.
Most vaccines require refrigeration to be effective, making it difficult to reach regional areas. For example, the AstraZeneca vaccine must be kept between 2-8ºC and Pfizer at -70ºC. A heat-tolerant vaccine would solve this issue by removing the need for refrigerated transport.
In the study, CSIRO scientists in Geelong assessed vaccinated mice blood samples for efficacy against coronavirus and its variants, including the Delta strain.
Dr S.S. Vasan, CSIRO’s COVID-19 project leader and co-author, said the Mynvax-vaccinated mice show a strong response to the virus.
“Our data shows that all formulations of Mynvax tested result in antibodies capable of consistent and effective neutralisation of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.”
CSIRO’s evaluation of the different Mynvax formulations will play a role in selecting the most suitable vaccine for human clinical trials in India later this year.
CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity Director, Dr Rob Grenfell, said CSIRO has been working hard throughout the pandemic.
“Since the start of the pandemic, CSIRO has played a crucial role in fighting COVID-19 by conducting a preclinical evaluation of two COVID-19 vaccines, including Oxford-AstraZeneca, tracking emerging variants of concern, and monitoring wastewater to detect hotspots in the community.
“A thermostable or ‘warm vaccine’ is critical for remote or resource-limited locations with extremely hot climates which lack reliable cold storage supply chains, including regional communities in Australia’s outback and the Indo-Pacific region.”
For more info on CSIRO’s COVID-19 research, visit http://www.csiro.au/covid-19.