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February 26, 2020updated 28 Feb 2020 11:51am

Potential Covid-19 vaccine to be tested in animals

By GlobalData Healthcare

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) Melbourne-based factory has begun production of a test dose for a potential vaccine for novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Researchers from the University of Queensland developed this test vaccine in six weeks using world-first molecular clamp technology. Animal testing of the vaccine is set to begin.

Currently, nearly 76,000 diagnosed cases and more than 2,245 deaths have been reported due to Covid-19. While the development of vaccines is time-consuming, this first test dose is in production, which shows incredible progress by the researchers.

Using a DNA blueprint of Covid-19 by Chinese scientists, the researchers identified a section of the virus to target, specifically a spike protein. The molecular clamp technology holds and changes the shape of the spike protein to allow the human immune system to recognise and kill it. Once the vaccine’s design is perfected, it will be tested on animals for safety and effectiveness.

The risk of Covid-19 spreading globally and becoming a pandemic persists. Additionally, new strains of a virus are able to spread more quickly, since they are unknown to the human immune system and thus no defence mechanisms exist. However, this new technology is able to respond quickly to unknown viruses and strains, indicating that it could help stop the spread if found to be effective.

Many large companies are hesitant to attempt the development of a vaccine for Covid-19 after failures and disappearing needs following past Ebola and Zika outbreaks made such endeavours less lucrative. If this test vaccine is proven safe and effective in animal testing, human trials will be initiated by the middle of the year to help curb the outbreak.

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