Thursday, 09 April 2020
German laboratory CureVac plans to begin clinical trials for a vaccine against the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium and Germany in June, the company announced on Thursday.
The vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA), the molecule needed to copy DNA (genetic material), to copy information from one or more genes. By injecting the mRNA into the patient’s body, the immune system is stimulated to produce the desired therapeutic proteins itself.
The trials will initially involve people who have not yet been exposed to coronavirus being injected with the vaccine, then into people who have already been exposed, and finally into elderly people, who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. During the trials, CureVac will “examine the types of antibodies that will be induced by the vaccine,” and try to understand the immune response in those who have already been infected, Stéphenne explained.
If the vaccine proves not to be effective, “CureVac has two or three other candidate vaccines. We’ll manage the uncertainty,” Stéphenne said.
Belgium recently slashed the waiting time for clinical trials, making it possible to start a trial four days after requesting to launch one. Clinical trials are also currently underway in Belgium to determine the efficiency of four antiviral drugs against coronavirus. The country has also poured €5 million into the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), whose ambition is to develop a globally available vaccine within 12 to 18 months.
The Brussels Times