News & Events, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Does the plant-based COVID vaccine work?

No animals were harmed in the making.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jan 27, 2022

Although the majority of my close friends and their close friends have the vaccine, there are still some people that are skeptical about getting the vaccine. Some don’t believe in the coronavirus or pandemic. Some are skeptical or a bit too fragile to get the vaccine. Some fear the sickness that could come. Some think it’s a way for the government to control us.


Additionally, some people of color have too strong of a negative history with the healthcare and offerings in this country, that they refuse to believe anything given to them will be used for good. Regardless of where you stand on the vaccine life, would you change your mind if you knew it was a healthy, plant-based version?


That’s right, Medicago, a Quebec-based medical company, has announced it’s recent endeavor in the development of the world’s first and only plant-based COVID vaccine. The mega-company is hoping for approval from Canada soon.


What is the plant-based COVID vaccine?

During their ongoing clinicals, the shot showed an extremely high efficacy rate against the COVID infection, with about 71% effectiveness against all variants and 75.3% against Delta, enhanced by GlaxoSmithKline’s booster. Sadly, the trials finished before the Omicron variant was discovered, so there are no clinicals or proof of it working against Omicron.


What is the plant-based COVID vaccine made of?

According to other sources, the plant-based COVID vaccine is made by inserting a genetic code into bacteria. Next, a nicotiana benthamiana (tobacco plant derivative) is soaked into the bacteria to alter it, and the code starts to teach the plant to make a protein.


The new vaccine contains a new additive—called adjuvant—that is used to boost the immune response. It works by mimicking the structure of the coronavirus so it can be easily recognized by the immune system.


The new plant-based COVID vaccine does not have any genetic material from animals, hoping to appeal to those that don’t want to harm animals in the process of receiving the vaccine. It should be noted that the current COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) don’t have animal-derived ingredients either, but little is known about the use of animal-derived ingredients being used in the development. (Similar to most vaccines and medicines around the world, the COVID vaccine was tested on animals).


Ok, so does it actually work? When can people use it?

It’s hard to say how effective it will be since trials have just completed. But what we will say is out of the 24,000 trial participants, there was a 71-75% efficacy rate (with zero side effects) in comparison to the Pfizer vaccine, which has a 94% success rate.


The good thing is those that were given this new plant-based vaccine reported no severe cases of COVID-19, and even had 10 times more antibodies than those who previously had COVID. People might be interested in the fact that no side effects occur with Medicago’s plant-based vaccine, whereas with the other vaccines on the market, people experience fatigue, cold chills, fever, vomiting, headaches, and other common cold symptoms.


It should be noted that the vaccine is still awaiting approval from the Canadian healthcare system. But if approved, it will be the first plant-based COVID-19 vaccine with a virus-like particle technology ever approved for human use.


It would also be the quickest—and most accessible—vaccine to produce, since it takes less time (5-6 weeks in comparison to the 4-6 months of other COVID vaccines), and less money. This means: More vaccines for people who need them. If it gets approved in Canada, it can only be used in Canada. So it will be another process to make it available in other parts of the world.


So, question: If you were on the fence about the vaccine, does this at all make it better? Would you consider getting the 2-dose plant-based vaccine? Or would you rather wait till there is more credible research on the vaccine to make a decision? Whichever you choose, we want to hear.