Feb 16, 2021, 11:59 AM
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Approaches to COVID-19 vaccine discussed in Mustafa Prize meeting

Tehran, Feb 16, IRNA - In the fourth round of the Mustafa (PBUH) Prize Science Promotion Meeting held on February 15, 2021, different approaches of Coronavirus vaccine development were examined.

Amid COVID-19 vaccine discussion, Mustafa (PBUH) Science and Technology Foundation held the 4th round of Science Promotion Meeting on the different approaches to Coronavirus vaccine development with the presence of professional experts in this area, as reported by the foundation’s official website.

Mostafa Ghanei, head of the scientific committee of Iran’s National Headquarter against COVID-19, addressed the development of Coronavirus vaccine in Iran which, according to him, began last year in March and is followed up in 4 or 5 different.

He also said that for each vaccine approach, a new technology is being developed, pointing to the various utilizations of mRNA platform.

Vaccines entered into the 3rd phase, he said, require the production infrastructure which needs to be supported financially. Therefore, the government purchases them in advance.

Ghanei also referred to some new approaches adopted in Iran, like edible vaccines, which might be proved to be useful later.

Iranian government decision not to by Pfizer vaccine was made firstly because it wasn’t cost-effective, and secondly the country lacked equipment necessary for keeping the vaccine in very cold temperature, he said.

The moderator said “the vaccines developed in our country before COVID-19 pandemic were all for bacterial diseases, not viral diseases.”

Kayhan Azadmanesh, professor of Virology Department and head of Rapid Response Team for Infectious Diseases at Pasteur Institute of Iran, talked about their approach in developing Coronavirus vaccine in which “the virus works as a tool for delivering the gene.”

Known as the adenovirus vaccine, this approach uses adenovirus in order to deliver one or two genes of the virus to the cells.

“We have used both the spike protein and N-protein,” Azadmanesh said, adding that this approach is cost-effective compared to other approaches of vaccine development.

Asked if using adenovirus poses danger, he replied “it is proved that almost all the adenoviruses are safe.”

Roohollah Dorostkar, CEO of Kian Gene Azma company, stated that their inactivated vaccine they are working on does not work on some viruses such as HIV, but seems promising on Coronavirus.

“We are in the challenge phase. In this phase the animal must be infected with the virus. It is a very sensitive phase,” he said.

Director of the project of developing mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, Vahid Khoddami, underlined that the vaccine developed by this method does not make genetic problems.

He said these messengers work based on a hit-and-run programming which indeed renders them very transient, adding, “We are not dealing with permanent genetic codes; they are not stable and do not enter the genome. That’s why the vaccines developed by this approach are needed to be kept in very cool temperatures.”

On the numerous advantages of this method, he said “enough doses can be manufactured rapidly and it is a very flexible technology which can be applied on other areas as well.”

“In autumn we did the animal test, and in few months we will enter the human phase,” Khoddami announced.

The next speaker, Seyed Reza Banihashemi, director of central lab and head of Immunology Department at Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute (RVSRI), pointed to safety as an important factor, saying that their approach is that the vaccine “is tested and developed in bioreactor outside the body, its safety is high, it does not have interactions with other vaccines, and all age groups can use it.”

He stated that 2 doses of this vaccine are administered at first, boosting the central immune system. However, he added, although this might develop a strong immunity against the virus, the subject might still transmit the virus to others.

Therefore, after the 2 injections, a nasal dose is received by ­the subjects to reduce the viral shedding.

“This is the first instance of nasal COVID-19 vaccine dose developed in the world,” he maintained.

He said the vaccine can be kept in 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, underlining that the vaccine, still in the first phase of clinical test, has developed 8 to 9 months of immunity in monkeys so far.

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