Report by our scientific adviser Daniela Cipolloni,
who was allowed into one of places now studying the vaccine and hoping to create it relatively soon. Look.
As the Coronavirus epidemic rages, the worldwide race for a vaccine has started. And Italy is also on the front line.
In Italy, we were the first to take up this challenge but the battle is being fought internationally.
The protagonist of the Made in Italy vaccine is a pharmaceutical company at the IRBM SCIENCE PARK, a scientific research center on the outskirts of Rome that specializes in the discovery of new drugs.
It is a small citadel covering an area of 80,000 square meters, including 22,000 square meters of laboratories.
This is where the world’s first vaccine for the Ebola vaccine that decimated people in Africa was created in 2014. Now it’s time to accomplish another feat: to stop the Coronavirus. But how is a new vaccine made?
Various different techniques can be used to make vaccines.
Every industry uses one or two different techniques to produce its vaccines.
The technique developed here at IRBM in collaboration with the Jenner Institute in Oxford, uses a small portion of the genetic code of the Coronavirus that creates a protrusion like this on its surface.
They transfer it to another virus, the one for the common cold, which is suitably deactivated first.
Using a very simple analogy, it’s like a freight train pulling a carriage with a very precious load, a message for our immune system, which, when it reads this message, prepares for the worst, for potential exposure to the Coronavirus, making us better prepared.
In practice, this protrusion becomes a kind of mug shot for the immune system. People who are vaccinated develop antibodies so, if they become infected, they will know how to recognize and defeat the Coronavirus.
The question on everyone’s lips now is: how long does it take to develop a vaccine?
It’s a race against time but one that requires specific stages to be accomplished that we cannot ignore. The virus grows in cells, in vitro.
So we have to wait a while for the cells to grow.
Our aim is to speed up the process before the summer and produce 1000 doses of the Coronavirus vaccine.
But before they leave the laboratory, the vials have to undergo some very strict quality control tests.
It will take at least a month to check the quality of the vaccine produced.
We need to make sure it doesn’t contain bacteria or contaminants that might have a negative effect on humans receiving the dose.
If everything goes to plan, the first 1000 doses of the Italian Coronavirus vaccine will be ready between July and August.
By this we mean ready for trial, not for sale.
From the moment we devise a vaccine to when we test it to see if it is effective, first on animals and then on humans, and we see that there is no toxicity in the vaccine and then finally start producing it in sufficient quantities to be able to vaccinate the whole population it takes many, many months, at least a year.
In this race for a vaccine, everyone is looking to cross the finish line first.
We did a survey and found that 25 public centers and private companies are working on developing a vaccine. I think this is a very important fact because the world scientific community did not hang about, it immediately got busy, showing a great sense of responsibility.
In recent days, an American company has announced that it has completed the production of the first vials using a different technology. This isn’t just a healthcare challenge.
The economic interests at play are huge, and so is the risk of losses.
Those who developed the Sars vaccine in 2003 were left empty-handed because the epidemic was over in a matter of months and never came back.