UK scientists working on vaccine to prevent future coronavirus outbreaks
UK scientists are working on a coronavirus vaccine aimed at preventing outbreaks similar to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Researchers from the University of Plymouth have made progress in developing vaccines designed to prevent infections jumping from animals to humans.
Researchers at The Vaccine Group (TVG), a university spinout company, are now looking to create a vaccine to prevent future human coronaviruses that have spread from animals.
Dr Michael Jarvis, TVG’s chief scientific officer, said: “As Covid-19 has shown, the spillover of disease from animals to humans can have a very high social, economic and commercial cost globally.
“Naturally, there has been a swift move into funding the development of human vaccines and therapeutics, but to date we are not aware of any approaches to eliminate Covid-19 in the animal population to prevent future outbreaks or re-emergence of the disease.”
He added that the animal species involved in the recent emergence remains unclear, and that such a vaccine may be vital for control of Covid-19 as well as other emerging coronaviruses.
But as the researchers work to prevent future outbreaks, a global race is on to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
On Monday, American scientists administered the first doses of an experimental vaccine.
Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle started a first-stage study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, of the potential vaccine by injecting healthy volunteers.
Researchers said that because the vaccines do not contain the virus, there is no chance of participants getting infected.
However, even if everything goes well, a vaccine is not expected to be ready for widespread use for at least a year.
Meanwhile, scientists in various countries across the world are in different stages of testing potential vaccines in clinical trials.
But the international community seems to be in agreement that a vaccine for Covid-19 will not be available for another 12-18 months.
University of Plymouth researchers have started work on a coronavirus vaccine working with the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute and Kansas State University.
Dr Jarvis said that developing vaccines for animals, rather than solely for humans, potentially tackles any future outbreaks at source.
He added: “Development of this particular vaccine has just been started and it is expected to be in animal studies before the end of the year.
“Although this will be too late for the current outbreak, the diversity of animal reservoirs and genetic variability of Covid-19 and related coronaviruses mean it could give rise to future pandemics.”