On Thursdays, researchers at UPMC in Pittsburgh announced that they have created a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The researchers are now asking for federal permission to begin trial tests for safety.
The researchers began working on the vaccine back on January 21. They found that mice had developed antibodies against the virus within two weeks of receiving the vaccine.
Researchers state that they based the vaccine on work that was previously done at UPMC that was done to develop a vaccine to protect against SARS and MERS, which have similarities to the coronavirus.
“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,” read a statement from co-senior author Andrea Gambotto, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine.
“We knew exactly where to fight this new virus, she added.
Health experts have predicted that it will take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is available to the public. However, UPMC researchers say that their timetable will depend on approvals and feedback that they receive from the federal government. They add that they hope the need for the vaccine will speed up approval.
Researchers state that they are ready to begin trials as soon as they receive approval from the government.
The researchers add that they believe that the vaccine is easy “scalable to produce in large quantities. The vaccine has a unique delivery method. The delivery method includes hundreds of tiny needles in a patch similar to a Band-aid. The needles are made of sugar and protein particles and dissolve into the skin to deliver the vaccine.
“For most vaccines, you don’t need to address scalability, to begin with,” Gambotto said. “But when you try to develop a vaccine quickly against a pandemic, that’s the first requirement.”