"This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something."
The United States, Germany and India are leading the race when it comes to finding a cure for the Coronavirus.
In the USA, the first potential vaccine is being tested on humans. Researchers gave the first shot to a person on March 16, 2020.
Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle have begun the first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time.
Study leader Dr Lisa Jackson said: “We’re team Coronavirus now.
“Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.”
An operations manager at a technology company is the first participant. Three others were next for the test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses a month apart.
Jennifer Haller is taking part in the study. She said:
“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something.”
After the injection, she left the exam room with a big smile: “I’m feeling great.”
This is the beginning of a series of studies in people which is needed to prove whether the injections are safe and could work.
Dr Anthony Fauci, of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), said that even if the research goes well, a vaccine would not be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months.
The potential vaccine, codenamed mRNA-1273, was developed by the NIH and Moderna Inc.
There is no chance that participants could get infected from the shots because they do not contain the Coronavirus.
It is not just the USA who are looking for a cure. At least three Indian vaccine makers are conducting research.
Serum Institute has partnered with US-based company Codagenix to quickly develop a live-attenuated vaccine against Coronavirus.
Live-attenuated vaccines contain live but weakened viruses.
The company said it intends to make the vaccine market-ready by 2022.
Zydus Cadila is taking two approaches. one is a DNA vaccine that is based on a small portion of virus DNA to generate an immune response and another is a live attenuated recombinant measles virus vectored vaccine against COVID-19.
One executive said it takes 14-28 days to take a vaccine candidate from lab to pre-clinical or animal testing.
The executive explained: “Animal testing takes about one month, but documentation takes about 3-4 months, so around six months is the bare minimum to get vaccines from animal to human testing.
“Human clinical trials fast-tracked take at least 12-18 months, a vaccine should take at least 1.5 to 2 years on a fast track basis.”
The development timeline for a traditional vaccine is 15 to 20 years.
Executives belonging to two Indian vaccine companies have said that it is likely that a vaccine will be successful against Coronavirus.
“So far, (COVID-19) is stable that’s what we know, we hope and pray that it will remain the same.”
However, Indian companies are worried about the high costs that are associated with funding clinical trials.
For example, Serum Institute estimates that the cost of the project would be Rs. 300 Crore (£33 million). They did imply that it may look at securing outside funding.
Bharat Biotech is also looking for partners to fund development costs.
Vaccine companies rely on funding from government, WHO, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and non-profits like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to fund vaccine development projects and de-risk the costs of investment.
But even after funding clinical trial costs and setting up manufacturing facilities, company’s aren’t sure they would get a payback.
While vaccine companies are conducting research, doctors in Jaipur claim to have successfully treated a COVID-19 patient.
They allegedly treated an Italian patient by using a combination of drugs which is sometimes used to treat HIV.
In Germany, a firm has been developing a possible vaccine for Coronavirus, however, the Trump administration tried to persuade them to move its work to the USA.
Officials fear that President Trump was trying to assure that any inoculation would be available first in the USA.
In a statement, Daniel Menichella, chief executive of CureVac, said:
“We are very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months.”
But CureVac announced that Mr Menichella was leaving the company. No reason was given for his sudden leave.
On March 15, 2020, the company issued a statement describing its vaccine work:
“CureVac refrains from commenting on current media speculations and clearly rejects claims about the sale of the company or its technology.”
Two senior American officials said that some reports of the story were exaggerated, particularly with regard to any effort by the USA to secure exclusive access to a vaccine.