11 July 2024

The cabinet approved a 211 million baht budget today (Tuesday) for a study of the safety and efficacy of a plant-based candidate sub-unit vaccine in boosting the body’s immune response to COVID-19, the first such vaccine in Thailand being developed by Thai startup Baiya Phytopharm.

The National Vaccine Institute and Baiya Phytopharm have been assigned by the cabinet to prepare a contingency plan, in case the company is unable to conduct more clinical trials of the plant-based candidate vaccine in July as planned, said Deputy Government Spokesperson Traisuree Traisoranakul.

They were also instructed to expedite implementation of the third phase of the vaccine program, to be sent to the screening committee for approval in two weeks, said Traisuree.

Baiya completed Phase One of human trials in December last year. According to CEO Dr. Suthira Taychakhoonavudh, all the volunteers are safe.

Baiya is not, however, the only company working on plant-based vaccines, using tobacco leaves as the main ingredient.

Canada is set to be the first country to give citizens the option of a vegetarian coronavirus shot.

“Covifenz” is made from plant proteins which, to the human immune system, look like the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine also uses GlaxoSmithKline’s pandemic adjuvant, a substance which boosts the body’s virus-fighting response. The vaccination regimen calls for two doses at a three-week interval.