Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science and others have developed a new coronavirus vaccine that has improved the smallpox vaccine and confirmed its effectiveness in animal experiments. Smallpox vaccines have been used worldwide for 200 years, but they also have few side effects and are expected to provide immunity for life.
Dr. Michinorie Kohara, an Emeritus Investigator who leads this study told Arab News Japan that the vaccine – a recombinant live vaccine that introduces the SARS-CoV-2 gene into a strain of the attenuated smallpox vaccine – has great potential.
“A single inoculation can produce lifelong immunity, as well as induce both antibodies that attack COVID-19 and cellular immunity that eliminates infected cells,” he said. “It also has the advantage of being able to cope with mutant strains, protect as early as one week after inoculation, and can be stored at refrigeration or room temperature. The effectiveness has not only been confirmed in mice, but also monkeys, whose response is similar to humans.”
Japan seems to have lagged behind the West in developing COVID-19 vaccines. “There are many legal regulations in Japan, so it is necessary to obtain permission at many stages. Our vaccine was also genetically modified, so we were subject to various regulations. However, because of pandemic, the speed is being improved,” Dr. Kohara said.
Japan has been cautious when it comes to vaccines, but he says there shouldn’t be any concerns.
“The idea of vaccine harm has been around in Japan since long ago. In Japan, 50 percent of people died of smallpox in the past, but on the contrary, vaccines were severely rejected because of the idea they can cause disease. There is always a sense of fear of new things at all times, and I think it is a normal response for humans. It is important to keep trying to make people understand and keep saying how it is vital. Some have been concerned that the vaccine may affect genes, but mRNA is easily degraded and does not enter genes. I think the safety is quite high.”
The new vaccines are expected to be available in 2024 after clinical trials.