Coronavirus cure: First COVID-19 vaccine could hit shelves in 12 months – ‘Top priority’

The rogue epidemic has killed nearly 4,000 people since the coronavirus first appeared in China last year. The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 targets the body’s respiratory system with flu-like symptoms and pneumonia.

But the coronavirus strain is new and has never been seen before in humans.

As a result, there is no known cure for infections and hospitals instead can only treat the symptoms when and if they show.

A German biotech company called CureVac hopes to solve the crisis by developing, testing and releasing a coronavirus vaccine in the next 12 months.

Speaking to RMF FM in Poland, Dr Mariola Fotin-Mleczek said the right infrastructure is in place for the first clinical trials to kick off by the start of summer.


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The biotech specialist who is leading the vaccine development effort at CureVac believes scientists can target the coronavirus’ genetic material to help the body build natural immunity.

She said: “We have pioneering, safe and very promising technology that we are trying to use to create a coronavirus vaccine and we are hoping we can release it on the market within a year.”

The coronavirus vaccine is based on technology previously used in rabies vaccine.

The vaccine acts much like a “pen drive” by delivering a set of instructions to the genetic material of the virus.

The coronavirus is an RNA or ribonucleic acid-based pathogen.

Much like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), RNA encodes and expresses the genetic material of the virus.

Technology that we are trying to use to create a coronavirus vaccine

Dr Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, CureVac

The German researchers believe they can force the body to produce a certain type of protein already presents on the coronavirus by injecting specially crafted RNA strands through an intramuscular vaccine.

The body would then naturally produce antibodies to the proteins, without the need to inject partial or full coronavirus cells in a vaccine.

If successful, the researchers claim even a small dose would be enough to kick-start the immune system’s natural defences.

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According to Dr Fotin-Mleczek, the technology has been previously tested in a rabies vaccine.

She said: “The work is currently in its first phase of research, on healthy people, on whom we test the safety of our vaccine and try to figure out what does is needed to obtain an adequate immune response.

“Ongoing research has shown that a very low dose, even one microgram, is enough to cause a human antibody level that gives us protection.

“This level of antibodies is set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We get here a very clear, legible, unambiguous answer whether the technology is able to provide immune protection or not.”

The coronavirus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province last December.

Although initially assumed to have been contracted at a busy seafood market, scientists are now unclear on where exactly the virus originates from.

Different strains of the coronavirus family have been responsible for past epidemics, such as the 2002 to 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS.

The SARS outbreak was most likely triggered and spread by bats and Asian civet cats.

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