The prevalence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in its second year has led to massive global human and economic losses. The high transmission rate and the emergence of diverse SARS-CoV-2 variants demand rapid and effective approaches to preventing the spread, diagnosing on time, and treating affected people. Several COVID-19 vaccines are being developed using different production systems, including plants, which promises the production of cheap, safe, stable, and effective vaccines. The potential of a plant-based system for rapid production at a commercial scale and for a quick response to an infectious disease outbreak has been demonstrated by the marketing of carrot-cell-produced taliglucerase alfa (Elelyso) for Gaucher disease and tobacco-produced monoclonal antibodies (ZMapp) for the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Currently, two plant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates, coronavirus virus-like particle (CoVLP) and Kentucky Bioprocessing (KBP)-201, are in clinical trials, and many more are in the preclinical stage. Interim phase 2 clinical trial results have revealed the high safety and efficacy of the CoVLP vaccine, with 10 times more neutralizing antibody responses compared to those present in a convalescent patient’s plasma. The clinical trial of the CoVLP vaccine could be concluded by the end of 2021, and the vaccine could be available for public immunization thereafter. This review encapsulates the efforts made in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine development, the strategies and technologies implemented, and the progress accomplished in clinical trials and preclinical studies so far.
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