Trials For Oral COVID Vaccine Underway

Testing is underway for a new oral COVID vaccine. Pat Harvey reports on the vaccine trial.

Video Transcript

- Testing is underway for a new possible way to get protection from COVID without an injection. Reporter Pat Harvey has a first look at an oral vaccine trial.

PAT HARVEY: 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 at 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 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?

- 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 that have lasted 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 a 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, because 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.

- The virus is mutating, so I hope that we have solutions.

- That trial is open to healthy adults under 55 who are not pregnant and haven't had COVID.