The researchers announced their findings Thursday, 2 April 2020, and believe the vaccine could be rolled out quickly enough to “significantly impact the spread of disease,” according to their study published on EBioMedicine. The researchers were able to act quickly because they had already done research on similar coronavirus SARS and MERS.
“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said co-senior author Andrea Gambotto, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine. “That’s why it’s important to fund vaccine research. You never know where the next pandemic will come from.”
“We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.”
The vaccine follows the traditional approach of ordinary flu vaccines, using lab-made pieces of viral protein to build immunity. According to the researchers, the vaccine was tested on mice and it produced antibodies in a huge number within two weeks. This test is believed to be successful and hence will help in defeating the virus.
The study’s authors are now applying for investigational new drug approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. They hope to start human clinical trials within the next few months.
“Testing in patients would typically require at least a year and probably longer,” Co-Senior Author Louis Falo said. “This particular situation is different from anything we’ve ever seen, so we don’t know how long the clinical development process will take. Recently announced revisions to the normal processes suggest we may be able to advance this faster.”
The researchers said that the vaccine will be rolled out soon and it will help in containing the disease.