Wellington: The New Zealand-made COVID-19 vaccine “Kiwi Vax” has proved to be a promising booster vaccine candidate in a preclinical study.
The study has shown that its unique formulation induces a safe and highly effective immune response to SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, according to Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (VAANZ) on Friday.
Kiwi Vax, developed by VAANZ as part of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, is highly immunogenic, robustly expressed, and has a strong stability profile, said the study published in iScience.
The vaccine was independently tested at the National Institutes of Health in the United States and the University of Melbourne.
“COVID will be with us for many more years to come, so having safe and effective booster options, particularly for vulnerable populations, will help keep more people safe from the virus,” said Kjesten Wiig of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, also executive director of VAANZ.
Kiwi Vax is a protein-based vaccine which works in a similar way to many traditional vaccines, using genetic information from the virus’s distinct spikes, Wiig said.
Kiwi Vax has a unique set of attributes, and its clean design does not attract extraneous immune responses. It is designed to be specific to the virus, said Lisa Connor, head of VAANZ’s vaccine evaluation team, adding that it elicits a broad antibody and T-cell response to all variants of concern, including Omicron, providing complete protection against disease and preventing the virus from replicating in mice exposed to it.
“The immune response generated by the vaccine is also very durable and long-lasting and results to date indicate that Kiwi Vax is stable at refrigerator temperature for several months and at room temperature for at least one month. These are important advantages over current vaccines,” Connor said.
Wiig said preclinically, Kiwi Vax is looking promising as a new potential COVID-19 booster vaccine, but human clinical trials are required to confirm efficacy through philanthropic funding.