Exclusive: El Segundo Research Center Testing Oral COVID-19 Vaccine

A new vaccine being developed by one of the owners of the Los Angeles Lakers could offer protection from COVID-19 without the need for an injection.

Video Transcript

PAT HARVEY: Well, it could offer protection from COVID without an injection-- a new vaccine being developed by one of the owners of the LA Lakers. We recently visited the El Segundo Research Center where testing for an oral vaccine is underway. And it's a story you'll see only on 2.

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Blood collection, check. Physical exam, looking good. Blood pressure, stable. COVID swab, completed. And now--

- I am going to give Mr. Henshaw his second dose of his vaccine.

PAT HARVEY: Researchers that the Chan Soon-Shiong Research Institute in El Segundo are testing whether these capsules might work as well, if not better than existing COVID vaccines.

TARA SEERY: To have a vaccine that's a room temperature that could be a pill is life changing.

PAT HARVEY: This oral vaccine is part of an experimental protocol being tested in healthy volunteers like Matt Henshaw.

TARA SEERY: Headaches?

MATT HENSHAW: No.

PAT HARVEY: Can pills alone prevent transmission? Scientists don't yet know, so they're testing four different approaches. Some patients get a jab, some don't. Matthew got one injection and two rounds of pills. Delivering this vaccine in a capsule isn't the only thing that's different. It's being positioned--

PATRICK SOON-SHIONG: As a T cell vaccine.

PAT HARVEY: Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is one part Lakers owner and one part vaccine mastermind. While existing vaccines help create antibodies to the spike protein on the surface of the virus, ImmunityBio's vaccine targets that globe in the middle, a part of the virus less prone to mutations.

PATRICK SOON-SHIONG: And the value of doing so is that we generate killer T cells.

PAT HARVEY: ImmunityBio's hypothesis is this-- by generating killer T cells in addition to antibodies to the spikes--

PATRICK SOON-SHIONG: Now you have what we believe is long-term protection.

PAT HARVEY: This vaccine, funded in part by Operation Warp Speed, is still experimental, so safety and efficacy have yet to be proven. But Dr. Soon-Shiong believes there is reason for optimism for lasting protection.

PATRICK SOON-SHIONG: We know from previous SARS-COV-1 in 2003, people that got infected then have T cells have last for 17 years.

PAT HARVEY: As for delivering the vaccine orally, it's not just to avoid a needle poke. In fact, Dr. Soon-Shiong believes the combination of the two could be the key.

PATRICK SOON-SHIONG: By giving a jab, you hope to develop T cells all around your body. And by giving it orally, you protect the mucous membranes, the gut, and hopefully the nose, the mouth 'cause that's how the virus comes in. It doesn't come in through your blood.

PAT HARVEY: Now that Matt has completed his vaccine and boosters, he will undergo intensive monitoring for the next 12 months. He hopes his lead will encourage others to consider entering a trial.

MATT HENSHAW: The virus is mutating, so I hope that we have solutions.

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PAT HARVEY: The trial is open to healthy adults under 55 who are not pregnant and haven't had COVID. And we have more information for you on cbsla.com.