Oral COVID-19 vaccine being made in Rochester lab

Mackenzie Davis
Created: February 22, 2021 05:36 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - A Rochester-based research lab is now working on a COVID-19 vaccine.

Normally Vyriad turns viruses into anticancer drugs, but now they are focusing on COVID-19.

"When the COVID pandemic hit, we thought 'well we could do something here.' We could use the virus that we're most familiar with and turn it into a COVID vaccine," Dr. Stephen Russell, President & CEO of Vyriad, said.

Vyriad is making major steps in creating the first oral COVID-19 vaccine.

"It's as simple as what it sounds. It's going to be a vaccine that is a clear liquid and it'll be sort of a tablespoon full, take it into the mouth, swish it around, gargle and swallow," Dr. Russell said.

When the lining of the mouth, or the mucus membrane, gets exposed to the vaccine, it reacts.

"And the vaccine is something that looks like it's the SARS Coronavirus and it gets the immune system interested and you then generate a response that is protective against the SARS-CoV-2," Dr. Russell said.

Vyriad is proposing that at the rate everyone is getting vaccinated at right now, this vaccine will be used as a booster.

"But then what happens after you've been vaccinated is that the protective immunity, the antibody levels in the blood, start to fall and they fall off over time. So, eventually they're going to drop so low that you need a booster and that may be in 6 months or one year after having been vaccinated. So, it would be that next wave that we'd be hoping our vaccine could be relevant for people who need a booster who don't want an injection," Dr. Russell said.

Dr. Russell's hope is that you take the oral vaccine whenever you need it. It will be a plus for those who don't like needles.

The next steps for Vyriad are needing to partner with one of the larger pharmaceutical companies and then to start the clinical trials.

Dr. Russell says the oral vaccination can easily be reconfigured to address the new mutations. As the virus changes over time, the vaccines will have to do the same.

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