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Thai Startup Working on Covid Vax Using Tobacco Leaves

Bangkok – A startup in Thailand is aiming to develop the country’s first Covid vaccine based on tobacco.

The start-up, Baiya Phytopharm, has been working on a vaccine using the leaves of an Australian tobacco plant, CNBC reported.

According to Dr Suthira Taychakhoonavudh from Chulalongkorn University, the scientists want to “make a difference” in changing Thailand from a vaccine importer to a vaccine maker.

The three-year-old startup completed phase one human trials of its plant-based Covid vaccine in December last year. No plant-based Covid vaccines exist anywhere, though at least one other besides Baiya’s is in development, the report said.

“So far, what we know is that … all the volunteers are safe. And looking at the safety profile, we are very happy with it,” Taychakhoonavudh was quoted as saying.

She added that it’s still too early to ascertain its efficacy rate, but the goal is to use available vaccines as a benchmark.

The pharmaceutical company said it expects phase two trials to start in February and phase three trials in June. It also hopes to submit data to the Thai Food and Drug Administration for approval of the vaccine by the third or fourth quarter of this year, the report said.

The company said it can quickly increase its production capacity if the vaccine is approved.

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Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn President of Chulalongkorn University