In Brief

Clinical trials begin for low-cost Covid vaccine made in chicken eggs

Easy-to-produce jab hailed as potential pandemic ‘game-changer’

A new Covid vaccine that can be produced inside chicken eggs has entered clinical trials in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam.

The vaccine, named NDV-HXP-S, uses a new “molecular design” that could “create more potent antibodies than the current generation of vaccines”, as well as being “far easier to make”, The New York Times (NYT) reports.

Unlike existing vaccines, NDV-HXP-S can be “mass-produced in chicken eggs”, the paper adds, mimicking the method that is used to “produce billions of influenza vaccines every year in factories around the world”.

It is also hoped that the new vaccine will solve “distribution, manufacturing and cost” hurdles that have left “lower-income countries reliant on wealthier countries’ assistance in getting vaccines to international partners”, Complex magazine adds.

If found to be safe and effective, manufacturers who already produce flu vaccines could make more than one billion doses of the affordable NDV-HXP-S jab a year, an achievement described as “staggering” by Andrea Taylor, assistant director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center in North Carolina.

Taylor told the NYT that the vaccine is a potential “game-changer” in the battle against coronavirus, while Dr Bruce Innis, of the PATH Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, added that it was “a world-class vaccine” and a “home run for protection”.

The vaccine works similarly to the Janssen, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations, using a modified adenovirus, a harmless, engineered virus that is injected into the patient. It was developed by a team at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and in early testing has been shown to produce “powerful protection” against Covid in mice and hamsters, the NYT adds.

A manufacturing trial has also already taken place, with a team at global non-profit PATH arranging for thousands of doses to be produced in a Vietnamese factory that normally makes influenza vaccines in chicken eggs. 

Human trials in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam will begin soon, while Mexico’s Laboratory Avi-Mex is also planning further trials into whether NDV-HXP-S could be administered as a nasal spray.

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