A vaccine for COVID-19 could be available for public use within months if it passes through three rounds of testing successfully, a biopharmaceutical company has claimed.
Up to 10 million doses of the potentially life-saving vaccine could be produced every month according to Medicago, a Pentagon-funded company based in Canada, which is responsible for developing it, Business Wire reported.
Bruce Clark, the company’s CEO, claimed on Thursday (local time) the vaccine - produced just 20 days after receiving a genetic sequence for the virus - could be ready for distribution by November.
He said the innovative technique relied on plants as a bioreactor for growing vaccine proteins rather than chicken eggs, which was part of the reason more could be produced quicker.
It meant the company could skip having to propagate the virus, which was required in egg-based methods, and go straight to producing the vaccine, Mr Clark said.
Before becoming available to the public, he said the vaccine would need to pass through three clinical trials, first on a small group to ensure it’s safe, then on a larger group to tests its effectiveness.
Finally there would be testing on a third group which would involve more intense monitoring, including for any adverse affects.
The company said it was hoping to initiate human trials of the vaccine by July or August.
“The collaborative efforts established between the research team at Laval University and Medicago have been very successful in developing unique antibodies against infectious diseases such as RSV and HMPV, and that experience gives us confidence for successful identification of therapeutic antibodies against SARS-CoV-2,” Mr Clark said.
The vaccine could begin its testing within just weeks, according to Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of America’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health.
“I would hope within a few weeks we may be able to make an announcement to you all that we’ve given the first shot to the first person,” he told the US House Oversight and Reform Committee, according to news.com.au.
Mass gatherings banned in Australia
On Friday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government would be advising against organised non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday due to the coronavirus.
He also advised Australians to reconsider the need to travel overseas, regardless of their destination, age or health.
The announcement came after the Australian Grand Prix and Tasmanian festival Dark Mofo were cancelled and Miley Cyrus called off her bushfire concert in Melbourne.
The Sydney Easter Show was also cancelled, on Friday afternoon.
Despite widespread cancellations, Mr Morrison has remained committed to going to the NRL football on Saturday - a decision he faced frustrated backlash over online.
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