Vaccine trial underway in Brownsville, vaccine can be kept at room temperature

1 year 11 months 4 weeks ago Sunday, March 28 2021 Mar 28, 2021 March 28, 2021 12:13 PM March 28, 2021 in News - Local

Over the last year, the Valley has seen several COVID-19 vaccine trials looking for participants.

But a new trial in Brownsville is different from the rest: This one is made from tobacco plants.

"Material is put into the plants that has them produce that spike protein which is used to make the vaccine," said Dr. Christopher Romero with PanAmerican Clinical Research.

The method essentially allows pharmaceutical companies to "farm" the product, and so far, research is promising on another front.

"It is probably going to be stable at a much higher temperature," Dr. Romero said.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, this one could have a broader reach.

“That's a big impediment to people being vaccinated throughout Latin America, Africa, and all over the world,” Dr. Romero said.

But it’s not just globally.

“We're driving three hours out to Jim Hogg County or Aransas and we have specific data loggers that look at the temperature,” said Dr. Emilie Prot, the regional medical director for Public Health Region 11, which covers the Rio Grande Valley. “They pick up the temperature. So, if there's any type of temp excursion, it can compromise the vaccine."

All from a plant known as a killer.

“As a physician, it's not without a touch of irony that we could think of this plant that for years has been associated with cancer causing and health adverse effects, now may be a tool at the frontline of fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Romero said.

If you're interested in participating in the trials, visit panamclinicalresearch.com.

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