Thailand’s Baiya Phytopharm wants to develop the country’s first plant-based Covid vaccine.
The start-up, founded by Dr. Suthira Taychakhoonavudh and Dr. Waranyoo Phoolcharoen in 2018, has been working on a vaccine using the leaves of an Australian tobacco plant.
Suthira, a 37-year-old lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, told CNBC’s “Managing Asia” that she and her team of scientists want to “make a difference” in changing Thailand from a vaccine importer to a vaccine maker.
The three-year-old start-up is funded by grants from the Chulalongkorn University Alumni and the Thai government. It also has raised some $3 million from a crowdfunding exercise.
The company completed phase one human trials of its plant-based Covid vaccine in December last year. No plant-based Covid vaccines exist anywhere, though at least one is in development.
“So far, what we know is that … all the volunteers are safe. And looking at the safety profile, we are very happy with it,” said Suthira.
The pharmaceutical company says it expects phase two trials to start in February and phase three trials in June. It hopes to submit data to the Thai Food and Drug Administration for approval of the vaccine by the third or fourth quarter of this year.
The company said it can quickly increase its production capacity if the vaccine is approved.