Researchers from the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have evaluated a “warm” COVID-19 vaccine suitable for remote and resource-limited locations that lack access to cold storage supply chains.
The heat-tolerant COVID-19 vaccine formulations were developed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and biotech start-up Mynvax. The CSIRO studied the formulation against all current variants of the virus.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed ACS Infectious Diseases Journal, showed the “warm” vaccine triggered a strong immune response in mice, protected hamsters from the virus, and remained stable at 37°C up to a month and at 100°C for up to 90 minutes.
Most vaccines require refrigeration to remain effective.
CSIRO scientists at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong assessed vaccinated mice sera (blood samples) for efficacy against key coronavirus variants, including the Delta variant currently spreading globally.
The Mynvax-vaccinated mice sera show a strong response to all variants of the live virus, CSIRO’s COVID-19 project leader and co-author Dr. S.S. Vasan said.
“Our data shows that all formulations of Mynvax tested result in antibodies capable of consistent and effective neutralisation of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern,” Vasan said.
This evaluation will support the selection of the most suitable candidate for planned human clinical trials in India later this year.
The pandemic has demonstrated the need for global scientific collaboration to address the urgent demand for multiple cost-effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, CSIRO’s health and biosecurity director Dr Rob Grenfell said.
“CSIRO has a long history of developing and testing vaccines for humans and animals,” Grenfell said.
“Since the start of the pandemic, CSIRO has played a crucial role in fighting COVID-19 by conducting preclinical evaluation of two COVID-19 vaccines including Oxford-AstraZeneca, tracking emerging variants of concern, and monitoring wastewater to detect hotspots in the community.
“A thermostable or ‘warm vaccine’ is critical for remote or resource-limited locations with extremely hot climates which lack reliable cold storage supply chains, including regional communities in Australia’s outback and the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
The CSIRO’s “warm” COVID-19 vaccine study was funded by a grant from Australia’s Federal Department of Finance.
For more information on research conducted by the CSIRO, specific to COVID-19, visit: www.csiro.au/covid-19.