WEB EXCLUSIVE: A ‘plant-based’ COVID-19 vaccine option awaits FDA approval

Coronavirus

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – In addition to the other COVID-19 vaccines on the market, there is possibly a new “plant-based” option.

This vaccine was created by a Canadian biotech firm and has been submitted to the FDA for approval before official distribution.

What is a “plant-based” vaccine?  

“What they do is they take a plant then genetically modify it so that plant looks like the virus. It imitates the virus – it’s kind of like copies of the virus, but it’s plant-based,” explains Dr. Sherri Young, the Health Officer with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

She says this process works because once the vaccine is introduced to the body, “the body recognizes it like the virus and forms antibodies to it.”

Dr. Young explains this vaccine is different from the mRNA (Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

“The mRNA vaccines just take the protein from an existing COVID-19 virus – which if you look at the COVID-19 virus, it’s like a ball with spikes on top. So, they’re manufactured a little different, and the body reacts to them a little bit different. The plant-based vaccines look more similar to the entire molecule or the entire virus.”

Dr. Sherri Young, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Health Officer

Why was this created?

“The target audience would be anybody who would consider themselves as vegan or vegetarian and just wanting to try a different option,” says Dr. Young.

Just like some of the previous vaccination options, this plant-based vaccine will also require multiple doses and possibly a booster shot as well.

Dr. Young says there is no set answer, yet, on when this option will be available to West Virginians as it’s still waiting on approval from the FDA.

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