Injection or pill? Phase 1 of oral Covid-19 vaccine study kicks off in South Africa

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A Covid-19 vaccine in pill form may soon be available in SA.
A Covid-19 vaccine in pill form may soon be available in SA.

Not everyone who hasn't gotten the Covid-19 jab is an antivaxxer.

Some people are just scared of needles, which is why scientists are working overtime to find various ways to administer coronavirus vaccines, as new variants emerge, including tablets or capsules. 

A Covid-19 vaccine pill clinical trial has been approved in South Africa, Israel-based pharmaceutical company Oramed said on Friday.

24 participants who have not received either a Covid-19 vaccine or contracted the virus have been enrolled to participate in phase 1 of the trial in Johannesburg, according to Oramed.  

Read more | Pfizer says its oral Covid-19 pill can help prevent severe infection from the Omicron variant

One dose of the oral vaccine will be administered at the beginning of the trial and a second dose three weeks later. 

"South Africa is a great location for the Phase 1 study, as it is currently experiencing a surge in Covid cases and has struggled to obtain sufficient vaccines," according to Oramed Chief Executive Officer Nadav Kidron.

"It is our firm belief that an oral vaccine which eliminates syringes and eases distribution and administration, can significantly help increase vaccination rates for South Africa and similar countries."

For many individuals who suffer from a fear of needles, vaccines in pill form like this are a more attractive option. 

"They do not require a medical professional to administer," the company said in a statement. "They are more desirable to the potential recipients because they do not involve injections," reports Medical Xpress

Meanwhile, prominent Covid-19 vaccine provider Pfizer has manufactured a pill that it says is effective in protecting against severe illness from the virus. 

The experimental antiviral pill, if authorised, will be sold as Paxlovid. It is also effective against the omicron variant, the company announced, citing laboratory testing, according to The Guardian

“Our oral antiviral candidate, if authorized or approved, could have a meaningful impact on the lives of many, as the data further supports the efficacy of Paxlovid in reducing hospitalization and death and show a substantial decrease in viral load,” said Albert Bourla, the company’s chief executive, in a statement.

The Pfizer pills could be taken with the older antiviral Ritonavir every 12 hours for five days, beginning shortly after the onset of symptoms.

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