COVID-19 vaccine from a tree – level 3

12-10-2021 07:00

Down a dusty farm area in the Casablanca region of Chilean wine country, forestry experts are growing a plantation of saplings of Quillay trees, technically known as Quillaja Saponaria, and its bark holds the promise of strong COVID-19 vaccines.

The trees could be important to natural resources behind a new vaccine for low-end middle-income countries. The bark of the tree is used by the indigenous people to make soap and medicine, and the trees have been used to make a highly successful vaccine against shingles and the world´s first malaria vaccine.

Scientists and industry officials are unsure on how quickly the supply of older trees will be depleted by rising demand. However, nearly everyone agrees that industries relying on Quillay trees will at some point need to switch to plantation grown trees or a lab-grown alternative.

Difficult words: sapling (a young tree), shingles (an infection that causes a painful rash), deplete (to use up the supply or resources of something).

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