VBI provides COVID-19 vaccine updates amid supply chain delays

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

VBI Vaccines has provided preclinical updates on its two COVID-19 vaccine programs: VBI-2901, a trivalent pan-coronavirus vaccine candidate, and VBI-2902, a monovalent vaccine candidate expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

Preclinical hamster studies have confirmed that VBI-2902 produces high antibody-binding and neutralizing antibody titers that the company observed in earlier studies. Additionally, they found that regardless of adjuvant formulation, the vaccine candidate was able to reverse weight loss after infection. The candidate was also able to prevent peak viral replication in the lungs by approximately 10,000-fold and significantly reduce inflammation in the lungs compared to placebo. The results of the hamster study are being prepared for publication, according to the firm.

VBI expects to start a phase I/II clinical study of VBI-2902 in Canada in Q1 2021 with a protocol that has been previously reviewed by Health Canada. The company has experienced industry-wide delays in access to testing materials due to supply chain issues. The study material will be manufactured by National Resilience (formerly Therapure Biomanufacturing).

The company is continuing to work on further optimization and manufacture VBI-2901, expressing the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.

The phase I/II study will begin later in 2021, according to the company.

Both vaccines utilize the company's enveloped virus-like particle (eVLP) technology platform.

"We continue to progress our candidates as we work to optimize, assess, and manufacture them, with the goal of bringing forward candidates that add meaningful clinical and medical benefit to those vaccines already approved -- be it as a one-dose administration and/or providing broader protection against known and mutated future strains of COVID-19," said Jeff Baxter, VBI's president and CEO.

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