Czech researchers have successfully completed the first phase of vaccine development against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The prototype tested on rodents is safe and elicited an immune response, daily Lidove Noviny reported on September 23.
The vaccine has been developed by the National Institute of Public Health (SZU), the Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (UHKT) with the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM). Further development will depend on the decision of the Ministry of Health.
The ministry announced the start of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine in early May. The news of the successful completion of the first stage was reported by the ministry's scientists on September 18.
The appointed leader of the project and the head of the IKEM preventive cardiology department, professor Vera Adamkova, told the daily that it is a prototype vaccine, successfully tested in a pilot project on rodents, on which a safe immunity reaction was observed.
According to the Minister of Health Roman Prymula, as quoted by the Czech News Agency, the results of the first phase of vaccine testing, especially its quality and chances of success, will be assessed by experts from the Czech Vaccinological Society. He will then decide on its continuation and further financing.
Aside from developing its own vaccine, Czechia is also contributing financially to the development of a European vaccine. In mid-September, the then minister of health Adam Vojtech stated that the country would contribute more than CZK305mn (€11.3mn) to the European fund.
As put by the executive director of the Czech Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry Jakub Dvoracek, the chances of bringing the Czech research to a successful conclusion are not high. However, if the study shows positive results, it would make sense to continue the development of the vaccine, he told the daily.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has registered a total of 38 vaccines in clinical trials, nine of which are in the third phase. There are currently 149 global teams in the preclinical trial. According to experts, research by the British company AstraZeneca, which is cooperating with Oxford University, is the most promising. “It looks like they will have ready-made documents for registration in September, with the first vaccines potentially available at the end of the year,” said Dvoracek.
In May, US biotechnology company Novavax stated its intention to buy Praha Vaccines a.s., part of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group, including a biologics manufacturing facility and associated assets in Bohumil. Back then, Novavax initiated development of NVX-CoV2373, its vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with Phase 1 clinical trial results expected in July 2020. “Manufacturing capacity is a critical component of our strategy to deliver a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic,” said president and chief executive officer of Novavax Stanley Erck.
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