TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's top research institution is working on an mRNA vaccine that it claims targets the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and is effective against other variants after successful tests on lab mice.
The result of the joint research carried out by Academia Sinica's biomedical sciences and organismic biology institutes has been uploaded to bioRxiv.org for preliminary screening and is expected to be submitted to a science journal in mid-February.
The coronavirus Omicron variant has become the dominant strain in the world since it made its first appearance in South Africa in late November last year. The Taiwanese research team claimed to get ahead of the game when international pharmaceutical firms were working around the clock to develop vaccines against Omicron.
Dr. Tao Mi-hua (陶秘華), research fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Science, told LTN that the team kicked off the procedure of developing an mRNA vaccine against the variant in early December.
A month later, the team's pseudo-virus microneutralization assay showed a significant increase of neutralizing antibody levels of 37 times more than existing mRNA vaccines, which had been developed based on the original strain of the virus, Tao stated. "The neutralizing antibody level is also high enough to protect recipients against all coronavirus variants as a booster dose in the lab's SARS-CoV-2 mouse tests."
The mice in the test were fully vaccinated a year ago, and the 3rd dose of that mRNA vaccine can elicit high and broad neutralization potency as well as T cell response against all variants.