By George Samuel, Abuja
Rome: Italian researchers on Wednesday claimed that they have successfully developed a vaccine that can help contain the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. According to a report, the new vaccine is likely to work on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has spread rapidly across the globe.
Tests conducted on mice showed that the vaccine has antibodies that work on human cells, blocking the virus from infecting people. The team of researchers further observed that the five vaccine candidates generated a large number of antibodies, and selected two with the best results.
The breakthrough development made by the researchers at Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome could be among the most visible progress amongst hundreds of experimental vaccines being tested across the world in the hunt for a cure for the dreaded respiratory illness. So far, at least 254,532 people have died from COVID-19 since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, and more than 3,629,160 cases have been confirmed in 195 countries and territories.
Italian scientists claim to have developed world’s first COVID-19 vaccine
Luigi Aurisicchio, CEO of Takis, the firm developing the medication, said that a coronavirus candidate vaccine has neutralised the virus in human cells for the first time, the Arab News reported.
“This is the most advanced stage of testing of a candidate vaccine created in Italy. Human tests are expected after this summer,” Aurisicchio was quoted as saying to Italian news agency ANSA.
As per tests conducted at Rome’s infectious-disease Spallanzani Hospital, the vaccine has antibodies generated in mice that work on human cells.
“As far as we know we are the first in the world so far to have demonstrated neutralisation of the coronavirus by a vaccine. We expect this to happen in humans too,” Aurisicchio added.
According to the report, all vaccine candidates currently being created are based on the genetic material of DNA protein spike. These vaccine candidates are injected with the so-called “electroporation” technique, which consists of an intramuscular injection followed by a brief electrical impulse, helping the vaccine break into the cells and activating the immune system. This makes their vaccine particularly effective for generating functional antibodies against the ‘spike’ protein, in particular in the lung cells, which are the most vulnerable to coronavirus, said the researchers.
The team said they are expected to test its vaccine on humans after summer.
Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases in the country since the pandemic began has reportedly risen to 213,013.