The first testing of a novel vaccine candidate against the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has commenced in animals.
A microbiology lab at Imperial College London, England, began testing their vaccine candidate on rats last week.
Led by Professor Robin Shattock, from the College’s Department of Infectious Disease, the team reported successfully generating a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate in their lab just 14 days from getting the genetic sequence to generating the candidate in the lab.
“If this work is successful, and if we secure further funding, the vaccine could enter into clinical studies (with human participants) in early Summer,” Prof Shattock said.
The difference between this vaccine effort and that of previous outbreaks, such as the SARS outbreak in 2002, is that a vaccine could potentially be produced much faster than conventional methods due to the emergence of synthetic RNA vaccine technology in recent years, he said.
“We have the technology to develop a vaccine with a speed that’s never been realised before,” Prof Shattock explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to supporting the fast-tracking of vaccines for COVID-19, but has warned that it could still take 18 months for one to be ready and approved for mass distribution.