Researchers at the most public organizations all over the world are now rushing to create a vaccine that will offer protection against one of the most terrifying viruses ever faced by humanity: the coronavirus.
The pathogen is known as 2019-nCoV and has already claimed more than 400 lives and infected over 20,600 people in China only. Thanks to Chinese officials, who have released the genetic code for the virus, labs all over the world began racing towards a cure.
Kate Broderick, senior vice-president of research and development at Inovio, said: “Once China had provided the DNA sequence of this virus, we were able to put it through our lab’s computer technology and design a vaccine within three hours.”
“Our DNA medicine vaccines are novel in that they use DNA sequences from the virus to target specific parts of the pathogen, which we believe the body will mount the strongest response to. We then use the patient’s own cells to become a factory for the vaccine, strengthening the body’s own natural response mechanisms.”
Collaborative Efforts to Find a Cure
Inovio stated that if the first human trials are a success, massive tests will be conducted afterward, possibly in an outbreak setting in China by the end of 2020. There is, however, no way to predict whether this epidemic is likely to have ended by then. If Inovio’s schedule goes according to their plans, the organization claimed it will be the quickest cure that has ever been created and testes in such a situation.
The last time a similar outbreak happened, SARS, in 2002, China did not quickly report it, so by the time researchers started to find a cure for it, the epidemic was almost over. Inovio claims are works on a vaccine that will be successful in human trials by the summer season.
The University of Queensland is also developing a ‘molecular camp’ vaccine, which it claims ‘enables targeted and rapid vaccine production against multiple viral pathogens.’ Also joining the forces is Modena Inc, based in Massachusetts, as well as the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to speed up the research.
Human Trials Scheduled to Begin in the Summer
The World Health Organization (WHO) is co-leading this global search for a new vaccine. It allegedly claims it is following the progress of several research facilities, including three that are supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo from the WHO’s Health Emergencies program said: “We have developed a framework to inform decisions on which candidate vaccine(s) should be tested first. The experts will consider a number of criteria, including acceptable safety profile, induction of appropriate immune responses, and the timely availability of sufficient supplies of vaccine doses.”
“Understanding the disease, its reservoirs, its transmission, its clinical severity, and developing effective countermeasures is critical for the control of the outbreak.”
The WHO is yet to determine which vaccine will be tested on humans first in the following months. Inovio has also announced that it will partner with a biotech company located in Beijing who can help control human trials, which are set to begin in the summer.