The outbreak of the coronavirus has started a frenzy chase for a vaccine to treat the disease.
The European Commission has announced that it has allocated €100 million to research related to diagnostics, therapeutics and prevention.
The COVID-19 virus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been seen previously in humans. Although the most likely primary source of this outbreak is of animal origin, human-to-human transmission is confirmed.
“There are currently no commercially available medicinal products that are authorised to detect, treat or prevent infections with the novel coronavirus,” a spokesperson for the European Medicines Agency (EMA), located in Amsterdam, told The Brussels Times.
According to a press release, the agency is surveying the landscape for potential antivirals or vaccines to treat or prevent novel coronavirus infections. EMA is also analysing all available information on developers’ drug pipelines.
Media in Israel reported recently that researchers at the state-funded Migal Institute might be in the process of developing a vaccine against coronavirus.
The discovery was identified as a by-product of a vaccine against IBV, a disease affecting poultry, whose effectiveness has been proven in pre-clinical trials carried out at the institute.
The research conducted at Migal revealed that the poultry coronavirus has a high genetic similarity to the human COVID-19 and that it uses the same infection mechanism.
“Given the urgent global need for a human coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development. Our goal is to produce the vaccine during the next 8-10 weeks, and to achieve safety approval in 90 days. This will be an oral vaccine, making it particularly accessible to the general public. We are currently in intensive discussions with potential partners that can help accelerate the in-human trials phase and expedite the completion final product development and regulatory activities,” said David Zigdon, CEO of Migal Galilee Research Intitute.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, sounded also hopeful at his media briefing in Geneve today (28 February). “More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. We expect the first results in a few weeks.”
EMA does not comment on specific products but welcomes any development of potential therapeutics and vaccines.
It supports medicine developers to advance and expedite the development of effective measures to fight and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It can also provide fast-track scientific advice to give prompt feedback from the European regulatory.
Despite the urgency, it will probably take considerable time to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. There is still no vaccine available for the SARS virus of 2002- 2003.
The problem is that between outbreaks, the will to spend money on prevention wanes according to Peter Daszak in The New York Times.