The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has infected more than 101,000 people since December and is showing no signs of stopping. Medical scientists in Germany are now working on a vaccine that could be ready by the start of summer.
The coronavirus cure is being developed by the company CureVac in the town of Tubingen, where two people are believed to have caught COVID-19.
Dr Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, a Polish biotech specialist leading the vaccine development effort, told TVN24 the cure will be “clean and safe”.
She said: “The value of our technology is that the production lines already exist.
“You can start producing vaccines for humans very quickly.
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“The basis of our technology is ribonucleic acid (RNA).
“It can be compared to a pen drive on which we store certain information.
“Our vaccine contains information on the structure of the protein that is present on the surface of the coronavirus.”
Similar to DNA, RNA is type of nucleic acid that encodes and regulates the expression of genes.
Some pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 are so-called RNA viruses, meaning their generic material is based on RNA and not DNA.
Scientists have found the COVID-19 virus is a single-stranded beta-coronavirus similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus or SARS-CoV.
You can start producing vaccines for humans very quickly
Dr Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, CureVac
Injected into muscle tissue, the German vaccine could potentially fight the coronavirus by giving the body instructions on specific proteins to produce.
These proteins already found on the surface of the virus, which would naturally stimulate the immune system to recognise and target the threat.
If successful, the body would then produce antibodies to neutralise the coronavirus.
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Dr Fotin-Mleczek said: “We are only giving out information on how to produce a certain protein and that protein by itself is not harmful because it is a protein that is currently in our body.”
However, the researchers will need to first test the effectiveness of their proposed coronavirus cure.
The vaccine will first be tested on a small test group of people to see whether it works as intended.
Dr Fotin-Mleczek said: “Probants will most likely receive two doses, with a gap of four weeks in-between them.
“We will study the immunological response after the first dose and after the second one, so after a few weeks we will know whether we have a successful vaccine.”
The novel coronavirus attacks the body’s respiratory system by triggering a range of flu-like symptoms and pneumonia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults.
“However, it can cause serious illness: about one in every five people who catch it need hospital care.
“It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.”
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