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Anxious World Waits As Covid Vaccine Makers Address Omicron Variant

Palm Beach, FL – December 7, 2021 – News Commentary There are many unknowns surrounding the new omicron Covid variant; there are early signs it’s more transmissible, but it’s not yet known what risks it poses to public health. Global market sentiment nosedived on Tuesday morning amid fears that the Covid-19 vaccine currently in use could be less effective against the new omicron variant. The variant was designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization last Friday. As the new omicron Covid variant spreads around the world, hopes are being pinned on vaccine makers’ ability to develop effective shots against the strain.  According to a report discussing the state of efforts to find a treatment for the new variation. A article found on said that: “The omicron variant has more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that binds to human cells. Some of the mutations are associated with higher transmission and a decrease in antibody protection, according to the WHO. The UN health agency reiterated on Monday that there are still considerable uncertainties and unknowns regarding this variant, however.  First of all, experts don’t yet know just how transmissible the variant is and whether any increase in infections is because it can escape prior immunity or because it is more transmissible. Secondly, there is uncertainty over how well vaccines protect against infection, transmission, severity of illness and death when it comes to the omicron. And thirdly, it is unknown whether the variant causes more severe symptoms.  The WHO has said it will take weeks to understand how the variant may affect diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.”  Active biotech companies in the market this week include BioVaxys Technology Corp. (OTCQB: BVAXF) (CSE: BIOV), GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK), Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRNE), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), RedHill Biopharma Ltd. (NASDAQ: RDHL).


The article concluded: “Many countries are not taking any chances and have announced a ramping-up of Covid vaccinations, booster shots and more restrictive measures. A booster dose of an authorized vaccine is currently the only way to bolster waning immunity against Covid-19, but vaccine producers are also looking at developing shots specifically targeting the omicron variant.  The world now faces an anxious waiting game as experts strive to discover what challenges and risks the omicron variant poses.  Any new variant is closely examined to see whether current vaccines are effective against it — if not, vaccines will need to be tweaked to target the new strain. The Covid vaccine makers are confident they can do this, but it will take time to develop, test, manufacture and deploy these new shots to hundreds millions of people.”


BioVaxys Technology Corp. (OTCQB: BVAXF) (CSE: BIOV.CNQ) BREAKING NEWS:  BIOVAXYS ANNOUNCES MAJOR RESEARCH COLLABORATION WITH THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY TO DEVELOP BROADLY REACTIVE PAN-SARBECOVIRUS VACCINE – BioVaxys Technology Corp. (“BioVaxys”), a clinical-stage immunotherapy company developing novel approaches to harness T cells to treat cancer and to detect and prevent emerging infectious diseases, announced today that it has entered into a major sponsored research collaboration with The Ohio State University (“Ohio State”) to further develop BioVaxys’ haptenized viral antigen platform to create a broadly reactive pan-sarbecovirus vaccine. This is the second research collaboration in the SARS-CoV-2 field between BioVaxys and Ohio State, a leading global academic research institute in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center serves as a site for SARS-CoV-2 multicenter clinical trials.


Sarbecoviruses, a subset of the Coronaviridae family, include the emerging SARS2 variants Delta and Omicron. Sarbecoviruses are responsible for two pandemics in less than 20 years including SARS-CoV-1 (SARS1) in 2003 and the current Covid-19 pandemic. Additional SARS-like viruses are continuously being found in nature reservoirs.


Kenneth Kovan, President and Chief Operating Officer of BioVaxys, said, “The repeated emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants and the potential for new coronaviruses increases the urgency for a universal vaccine. Research suggests that a pan-sarbecovirus vaccine could potentially prevent additional emergent variants and help end the Covid-19 pandemic.”


The collaboration will leverage BioVaxys’ proprietary haptenized viral antigen platform to create a broadly reactive pan-sarbecovirus vaccine composed of hapten-modified S-spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 and a hapten-modified S-protein from SARS-CoV-1. Ohio State will conduct animal studies with BVX-0320, BioVaxys’ haptenized SARS-CoV-2 S1 protein vaccine and a new haptenized SARS-CoV-1 S1 protein vaccine from BioVaxys. The study will screen the combination for virus-neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and other sarbecoviruses, including bat SARS-related CoV and pangolin CoV. Initial data are expected by Spring 2022.


The clinical goal of the program is to stimulate virus cross-reactivity and induce immunity against all or most sarbecoviruses by immunizing people who have convalesced from a documented Covid-19 infection or received a full course of any Covid-19 vaccine, leading to a pan-sarbecovirus vaccine that encompasses current and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.


The study will be led by virologist Qiuhong Wang, PhD, Associate Professor, Center for Food Animal Health, Department of Animal Sciences, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine at Ohio State. Dr. Wang’s research program focuses on the study of enteric caliciviruses and coronaviruses. She received her Bachelor of Medicine from Beijing Medical University, Master of Science from the University of Tokyo, doctorate from Ohio State University and completed postdoctoral training at the Medical College of Wisconsin.


BioVaxys recently filed a patent application for its haptenized viral antigen vaccine platform to elicit a broad cross-reactive immune response against most or all sarbecoviruses.  CONTINUED... Read this full release and more news for BioVaxys Technology at:    


Other recent covid-19 developments in the biotech industry include:


GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) and Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (VIR) recently announced an update to bioRxiv, a preprint server, with preclinical data demonstrating that sotrovimab, an investigational monoclonal antibody, retains activity against key mutations of the new Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant (B.1.1.529), including those found in the binding site of sotrovimab. These data were generated through pseudo-virus testing of specific individual mutations found in Omicron. To date, sotrovimab has demonstrated ongoing activity against all tested variants of concern and interest defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The companies are now completing in vitro pseudo-virus testing to confirm the neutralizing activity of sotrovimab against the combination of all the Omicron mutations with the intent to provide an update by the end of 2021.


George Scangos, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Vir, said: “Sotrovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind. By targeting a highly conserved region of the spike protein that is less likely to mutate, we hoped to address both the current SARS-CoV-2 virus and future variants that we expected would be inevitable. This hypothesis has borne out again and again – with its ongoing ability to maintain activity against all tested variants of concern and interest to date, including key mutations found in Omicron, as demonstrated by pre-clinical data. We have every expectation that this positive trend will continue and are working rapidly to confirm its activity against the full combination sequence of Omicron.”


Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) recently announced preliminary results from an independent study, including a subset of participants from the Janssen-sponsored COV2008 study, conducted by Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., et al. of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), which showed that a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S), administered at six months after a two-dose primary regimen of BNT162b2, increased both antibody and T-cell responses. These results demonstrate the potential benefits of heterologous boosting (mix-and-match). The article describing these results have been posted on medRxiv.


“There is early evidence to suggest that a mix-and-match boosting approach may provide individuals with different immune responses against COVID-19 than a homologous boosting approach,” said Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC. “In this preliminary study, when a booster dose of Ad26.COV2.S was given to individuals six months after a primary regimen with the BNT162b2 vaccine, there was a comparable increase of antibody responses at week four following the boost and a greater increase of CD8+ T-cell responses with Ad26.COV2.S compared with BNT162b2.”


Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRNE) recently announced that initial loading orders have been processed and scheduled for delivery later this year. The initial shipment will establish an in-country safety stock to manage just in time ongoing deliveries to local clients.  In addition to the loading order, Sorrento’s local distribution partner has received an order from a large diagnostic laboratory in Brazil. The laboratory has a central processing unit and collaborates with about 2,000 other smaller units across the country.


COVISTIX tests will be delivered in successive shipments starting later in December and will continue over time as in country supplies are matched to the increasing demand.  Sorrento has also started expanding its activities to other Latin American countries that accept Brazilian approved products for import.


RedHill Biopharma Ltd. (NASDAQ: RDHL), a specialty biopharmaceutical company, recently announced that because opaganib’s proposed mechanism of action is not impacted by spike protein mutations, opaganib is expected to be unaffected by mutations associated with Omicron and other known variants of concern. The Company also provided an update on the status of its regulatory submissions for opaganib.


Increased hospitalizations in South Africa due to Omicron highlight the urgent need for drugs aimed at moderately severe COVID-19 patients with pneumonia requiring hospital treatment. By focusing on this large group of patients, opaganib, if approved, would target an entirely different and sicker patient population than the Pfizer and Merck oral drug candidates, which showed benefit only in non-hospitalized patients at the earliest stages of symptomatic infection.


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