PharmaShots Interview: Medicago’s Brian Ward Shares Insights on COVIFENZ, a Plant-Based COVID-19 Vaccine
In an interview with PharmaShots, Brian Ward, CEO at Medicago shared his views on the approval of a Plant-Based COVID-19 Vaccine in combination with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant
- Brian talked about the data that supported the approval of Medicago’s plant-based Covid-19 vaccine by Health Canada
- He focused on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and how it will be a booster when combined with GSK’s adjuvant
- The interview sheds light on the milestone achieved by both the companies through this approval to help protect people against COVID-19 disease
Smriti: What are salient features (including dose and storing conditions) of adjuvanted plant-based COVID-19 vaccine, COVIFENZ?
Brian Ward: COVIFENZ® uses Coronavirus-Like Particle (CoVLP) technology with the vaccine composed of recombinant spike (S) glycoprotein expressed as virus-like particles (VLPs) co-administered with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant. The vaccination regimen calls for two doses given intramuscularly 21 days apart (3.75 micrograms of CoVLP antigen in combination with GSK pandemic adjuvant in the same injection). The vaccine is stored at 2 °C to 8 °C. COVIFENZ® antigen will be manufactured in Canada and in North Carolina (US).
Smriti: Discuss the data supporting the approval of COVIFENZ in Canada. Discuss the efficacy of Medicago against delta, omicron, and other emerging variants of COVID-19.
Brian Ward: The results from our final analysis show an overall efficacy of 75.3% against COVID-19 of any severity caused by the globally dominant Delta variant. Efficacy was 88.6% against the Gamma variant and no cases of the Alpha, Lambda and Mu variants were observed in the vaccinated group while 12 number of cases were observed in the placebo group. Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine global efficacy against any variants was 71% as per protocol. The Omicron variant was not circulating during the study. You can access additional details in the Phase 3 results press release.
Smriti: Are Medicago and GSK planning to work on any booster dose of an adjuvanted plant-based COVID-19 vaccine, COVIFENZ?
Brian Ward: Yes, in the coming weeks, we will start to evaluate COVIFENZ as a booster.
Smriti: How can you differentiate your vaccine from the big player’s vaccines like Pfizer, AZ, and Moderna?
Brian Ward: We cannot directly compare COVIFENZ with other vaccines as we didn’t perform a head-to-head comparison.
Smriti: Are you exploring the potential of this vaccine in patients below the age of 18?
Brian Ward: COVIFENZ is currently indicated for individuals 18 to 64 years of age. We are working to extend the indications for COVIFENZ.
Smriti: What will be the companies' next step to make this available across the globe? What are the estimating sales of World’s First Plant-Based Covid Vaccine in 2022 and peak sales?
Brian Ward: The Canadian government is our first customer; however, we are also in discussions with other potential customer worldwide pending approval in their countries/regions. We cannot comment further on these discussions as they are confidential.
Brian Ward is the Medical Officer at Medicago & a professor of medicine and microbiology at McGill University. He also serves on numerous national and international advisory committees in the areas of vaccine use, vaccine safety, and international health. Dr. Ward received medical training at McGill, University of London, and Johns Hopkins (Tropical Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Microbiology)
Senior Editor at PharmaShots. She is curious and very passionate about recent updates and developments in the life sciences industry. She covers Biopharma, MedTech, and Digital health segments along with different reports at PharmaShots.