Treatments and medications go through rigorous clinical trials in the U.S. before they are brought into the healthcare fold. UW Medicine's COVID vaccine, "GPB510," has advanced into the late stages of testing and now awaits approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Meanwhile, the South Korea-based company leading the vaccine's clinical development, SK bioscience, is seeking authorization for use there.
South Korea has a vaccination rate higher even than the United States, at around 88%. Researchers say the purpose of GPB510 is to be used as a "second generation" vaccine that is effective, low-dose, low-cost, easy to manufacture and stable without deep-freezing.
The South Korean government has already entered a purchase agreement to buy 10 million doses.
According to UW Medicine, their vaccine works differently than ones using mRNA (Pfizer, Moderna), viral vectors (Johnson & Johnson) or inactivated virus (Sinovac/COVAXIN). Instead, their vaccine comprises of microscopic protein particles studded with fragments of the coronavirus.
The particles mimic "the repetitive patterns of proteins on virus surfaces," allowing them to be quickly picked up and understood by our immune systems, which can fight a later COVID exposure with that knowledge.
Phase 3 clinical trials involved more than 4,000 participants, and showed that GPB510 far outperformed Europe's Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, with neutralizing antibody levels at four-times the level or higher after vaccination.
The university says they are licensing the vaccine technology royalty-free until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.