Canada approves Medicago’s plant-based COVID-19 vaccine for adults – Reuters

Feb 24 (Reuters) – Medicago’s vaccine on Thursday became the world’s first plant-based shot approved against COVID-19 after Health Canada cleared it for use in adults.

The two-dose vaccine, which uses an adjuvant from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) to boost immune response, is the sixth COVID-19 shot to receive regulatory clearance in the country.

The Quebec-based privately held company has an agreement to supply up to 76 million doses of the vaccine to the Canadian government. Medicago said on Thursday it was committed to fulfilling the order as soon as possible.

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“We’re at a stage where we’re ramping up capacity to meet the supply agreement,” said Marc-André D’Aoust, executive vice president of innovation, development and medical affairs at Medicago.

The company will be sending material for fill/finish and packaging very soon, he added.

The home-grown vaccine, branded Covifenz, is based on a technology that uses plants in its development process to produce non-infectious particles that mimic the virus.

Medicago plans to test the shot as a booster dose and among children, D’Aoust said.

Its approval for people aged 18 to 64 years follows a late-stage study that showed the vaccine was 75.3% effective against the Delta variant of the virus.

The shot also showed an overall efficacy of 71% against all variants of the coronavirus except Omicron, which was not prevalent when the study was underway.

Medicago is preparing to study an Omicron-tailored version of its vaccine, D’Aoust said.

Canada has approved several vaccines including those based on mRNA technology from Moderna (MRNA.O) and Pfizer (PFE.N). Last week, the country cleared Novavax’s (NVAX.O) protein-based shot for use in adults.

Medicago intends to apply for approval of the shot in Japan and is also in talks with the U.S. government and regulatory authorities in Europe and Asia for the vaccine, D’Aoust said.

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Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Sriraj Kalluvila and Aditya Soni

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