A team of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh is seeking FDA approval for a potential coronavirus vaccine that could become generally available in a few months. According to a finding published in the journal EbioMedicine, the vaccine could be available in a few months to arrest the global spread of COVID-19 and bring its attendant deaths to a complete halt.
Rather than the traditional way of administering vaccines through needles, the new vaccine would be administered via a patch the size of a fingertip. When administered via a skin patch, the vaccine would elicit the strongest immune reaction from its spike protein. There are 400 “microneedles” made of protein and sugar on each vaccine patch, and the microneedles would dissolve smoothly into the skin when worn like a Band-Aid.
The authors of the study said they were able to come up quickly with a COVID-19 possible vaccine because they had done extensive work on SARS and MERS, which are similar coronaviruses. According to Dr. Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine, “these two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus.”
The vaccine was first tested on lab mice and found to be effective at inducing natural immunity via antibodies that counteract the influences of the COVID-19 virus. The scientists found that within two weeks of administering the vaccine to the mice, they developed enough antibodies that fight off coronavirus and restore normal health over time.
The Pittsburgh researchers hope to commence clinical trials on humans in the next few months after the FDA grants them investigational approval for the vaccine. According to Gambotto, “we knew exactly where to fight this new virus.”
Gambotto revealed that his research made the vaccine highly scalable for global use because of the high rate of worldwide infection and related deaths. He stated that most vaccines do not require scalability at the first stage of research, but a potential vaccine for a pandemic such as COVID-19 should start with scalability because of its lethality.