A US-developed vaccine candidate against COVID-19 has shown promise in the first peer-reviewed research since the outbreak began.
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine announced they have developed a potential vaccine against the coronavirus, technically called SARS-CoV-2.
Tested on mice, the vaccine was able to produce antibodies that specifically fought the strain of coronavirus the globe’s health systems are currently buckling under.
The vaccine was applied using a patch the size of a human fingertip, and was able to produce antibodies in quantities the scientists hope will be enough to neutralise the virus.
Nicknamed “PittCoVacc”, the vaccine works by using lab-made pieces of virus protein that the body then builds immunity against.
It’s a model that’s proven successful in modern influenza vaccines.
Andrea Gambotto, co-author of the study, said the speed at which the vaccine candidates are developing is thanks to global co-operation.
“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014,” Dr Gambotto said.
“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.
“That’s why it’s important to fund vaccine research. You never know where the next pandemic will come from.
“Our ability to rapidly develop this vaccine was a result of scientists with expertise in diverse areas of research working together with a common goal.”
The authors of the study are now urgently working to have human trials approved as soon as possible.
“Testing in patients would typically require at least a year and probably longer,” co-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.”