PRESENTER Yes, in the coming days these doses will leave Italy, destined for the UK;…
BARBARA D’URSO: Allow me to introduce the guests we currently have in the studio, they are: Mario Giordano
MARIO GIORDANO: Good evening, hi Barbara, good evening everyone
BARBARA D’URSO: Alda D’Eusanio
ALDA D’EUSANIO: Good evening
BARBARA D’URSO: and on the line we have Gian Luigi Nuzzi, good evening Gian Luigi
GIANLUIGI NUZZI: Good evening, hi Barbara, good evening everyone
BARBARA D’URSO: Right, let’s start with the vaccine. So on the line we have those who claim they have a vaccine ready and could proceed to a human trial immediately, so I’ll go straight to Piero Di Lorenzo who is the Managing Director of Advent and IRBM and Carlo Toniatti who is the IRBM Scientific Director
PIERO DI LORENZO & CARLO TONIATTI: Good evening
BARBARA D’URSO: So, let’s talk about this vaccine, because obviously it is what everyone is hoping for. We’ve heard all the virologists, the heads of various health organizations around the world, etc. who, quite rightly, say that the virus is here and we have to get used to living with it, into this summer and probably even into autumn, until a vaccine is found. But do you actually have the vaccine ready and are you ready to test it directly on humans?
PIERO DI LORENZO: The vaccine is ready so by the end of the month we’ll be sending the first batch, which is being produced in our laboratories in Pomezia, to Oxford. They, in the meantime, are recruiting 550 healthy volunteers. They will immediately begin preparing these volunteers, who will be vaccinated by the end of May. After that there will be a period of around 4 months and by the end of September we expect to get a scientific response on the efficacy of the vaccine. I must clarify here and now that, even if the vaccine is shown to be very effective, it will be available in pharmacies within a month.
BARBARA D’URSO: No, I can image it takes a long time to produce it, obviously
PIERO DI LORENZO: Exactly, exactly
MARIO GIORDANO: How long will it take to produce? How much time? If, in the best case scenario, we are told at the end of September, that yes it can be produced, between production and distribution, how long will it take?
ALDA D’EUSANIO: For 8 billion people
PIERO DI LORENZO: Let’s make one thing clear. The vaccine production capacity of all the multinationals worldwide is currently around 200 million doses. There are 8 billion of us, so that tells you how long it will take. So assuming that the outcome of scientific testing on the volunteers is positive, we are saying that by the end of September we’ll have the response we need and by the end of the year we’ll be ready after all the paperwork etc. has gone through
GIAN LUIGI NUZZI: But, forgive me for asking, why are you further ahead than others in this? The search for a vaccine is the search that is occupying every multinational in the USA, France, how have you managed to pull ahead from this group?
MARIO GIORDANO: I believe there are already others in production on humans aren’t there? There are already others if I’m not mistaken.
GIAN LUIGI NUZZI: They are doing it also in China too, of course.
PIERO DI LORENZO: I honestly don’t know whether we are further ahead than the rest because I don’t know what their situation is. I would imagine there are 5,6,7 companies in the world who are reasonably far on
BARBARA D’URSO: Yes I’m reading here that there are actually 5 or 6 companies worldwide
MAURO GIORDANO: I think 2 are already doing tests, if I’m not mistaken
PIERO DI LORENZO: There are a couple in the United States, a couple in Germany on ein the Netherlands and one in Australia.
GIAN LUIGI NUZZI: The first ones to have it should be the doctors I think, those who are most at risk in hospitals. In other words once the vaccine becomes available, which will mean that we’re gradually entering a period of increasing normality, I think the first people to be vaccinated should be those most at risk, so nurses, people working in social care, doctors, all those who are sacrificing and risking their lives in hospitals.
PIERO DI LORENZO: And I would add that this is a given. Clearly it will be introduced gradually because, as I was saying earlier, the production capacity will definitely be increased, doubled, we ourselves are arranging to increase our production capacity ten fold but producing the vaccine is not such a simple industrial procedure
GIAN LUIGI NUZZI: So, if you don’t mind me asking, how much would it cost for one person? How much could it cost me and my family?
PIERO DI LORENZO: No, no. It would be totally premature to say. I’d be picking numbers out of the air.
ALDA D’EUSANIO: I wanted to ask something
BARBARA D’URSO: Just a moment please Alda, I have a question for Dr Toniatti, the Scientific Director. I assume I was talking to Mr Di Lorenzo just now because it wasn’t made me clear to me which of the two I was speaking to.
PIERO DI LORENZO: Di Lorenzo
BARBARA D’URSO: Hi Piero I am reading here that these 500 healthy volunteers will be aged between 18 and 55 is that correct?
CARLO TONIATTI: Yes, as with every trial there are various criteria for inclusion and exclusion.
BARBARA D’URSO: Ok when will you be in a position to do it then? Immediately in England?
CARLO TONIATTI: What can I say? We need to be optimistic, the optimism of science. The trial is being organized in such a way that the patients have already been identified, as you can imagine the requirement was to find 500 or more volunteers and we were inundated with requests, 500 volunteers were found immediately
BARBARA D’URSO: Right
CARLO TONIATTI: One thing we can say about our vaccine in answer to a question that was asked earlier, is not that we are ahead, as there are various companies working around the world, each one with their own platform, but one of the advantages we have is that the platform we are using has already been used in the past
ALDA D’EUSANIO: For Ebola
CARLO TONIATTI: So what does that mean? It was used for Ebola, but not only that. It basically means that there is no need to carry out lots of clinical trials to show that this type of vaccine is not toxic; it is a question that has already been asked in the past and we have reasonable grounds to think that the vaccine is not toxic. We should say never say never, science can always produce surprises, but unlike other companies that have to go through a phase known as increased dosing, in other words they have to start off with a very low dose of vaccine to work their way up to a higher dose, we are able to go directly to a dose level that should be the most effective.
ALDA D’EUSANIO: Why that age range? Why 18-50?
BARBARA D’URSO: Pardon Alda, I must move on because I need to change the subject and go to Giorgia Meloni, so please be patient. I’ll just quickly finish the discussion with the Scientific Director. So you have an advantage in that this platform, as you call it, has already been used in the past so you can start off with the dose directly, I am using layman’s term here
CARLO TONIATTI: That should be effective
BARBARA D’URSO: That should be effective, so it is nevertheless a great hope. Clearly when the positive results come it won’t be possible to produce it quickly for the entire planet, for the whole world, obviously, but it will be possible to produce it for those who really need it, so health workers as Mr Nuzzi was quite rightly saying, but also doctors
MAURO GIORDANO: Old people
BARBARA D’URSO: Old people obviously, the police force, basically those are the ones who are first in line and who will need it. Thank you very much, thank you to both Piero Di Lorenzo, who I’ve known for a long time and thanks for being here and thanks also to the Scientific Director, let’s hope for the best.
PIERO DI LORENZO: Thank you
BARBARA D’URSO: Thank you so much, let’s hope it works because, as we already heard today from Brusaferro, we’ll be hearing from Galli shortly, we will have to live with this Covid-19 virus until a vaccine is found, we will have to learn to live with it as best we can.