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Pinoy scientist-priest pins hope on affordable COVID-19 ‘oral vaccine’ for PH

Fr. Nicano Austriaco, O.P./Photo by Melissa Brown

A Filipino priest who is working to develop an oral vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is hopeful that the yeast-based medicine he is working on would be effective against new variants.

In an interview with GMA News, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, who has a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also a trained yeast expert for 25 years, said: “We are developing two vaccines now—one for the original virus and we have some for the variants as well. As you know the variants are taking over the Philippines so we need to develop a version of this vaccine that would be effective against the variants as well.”

Fr. Austriaco explained that he and his team have genetically engineered a common probiotic yeast, called Saccharomyces boulardii “to produce the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 in your body”.

The scientist wants to develop an oral vaccine that can be easily consumed.

He is hoping that the oral vaccine’s efficacy would be at least 80 percent.

Once its clinical trials turn out successful, he said they will look for a local manufacturer who can produce the vaccine at an affordable price so that the government can distribute it to the far-flung areas of the country.

So far, the approved COVID-19 vaccines are using mRNA technologies like the ones in Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Sinovac vaccines are using the more traditional inactivated virus particles.

Staff Report

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