Dr Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, head of the biotechnology technology department of German company CureVac, manages the development of the coronavirus vaccine. Thanks to innovative solutions, the preparation can be ready within a few weeks.

The team led by the Polish woman focuses on neutralizing the protein that is responsible for the fusion of the virus with a human cell. A ready vaccine will not introduce the whole virus into our body, but will only fool it that something like this has happened. As a result, antibodies will be generated that will immunize us against the disease.

How does it work? Instead of introducing an inactive virus into the body, modern mRNA vaccines provide cells with information about which protein it contains which should be recognized as foreign and neutralized.

“In our technology, we do not need the whole virus, so there is no danger that there will be any side effects or that it will get out of control in a weaker immune system”  emphasized the scientist in a conversation.

Research conducted by CureVac is co-financed by CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), co-founded by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust. The biotechnologist admits that the work on vaccines lasts so long that by the time the preparation is produced, the epidemic spontaneously ends.

When asked if this time this could be the case, Fotin-Mleczek replied that the coronavirus was unpredictable because some people were infected without symptoms, so the total scale of the epidemic is unknown. – Certainly a great danger can arise if the virus begins to spread in Africa. It is possible that this problem will exist longer and vaccinations will make sense, although of course the question is who to vaccinate, because potentially everyone can get it, but not everyone has to get sick – she explained in an interview.

When will we receive the medicine? Work on the vaccine is carried out simultaneously in several countries. Sanofi Pasteur with the financial support of the American government announced that in half a year the preparation will be ready, and next year tested on people.

In turn, the biotechnology company Moderna announced that the first batch of coronavirus vaccines was sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the United States. The formula was developed in just six weeks. However, it may take up to 18 months for the vaccine to be approved.

In China, at least two clinical trials are conducted, including remdesivir, which contains an RNA polymerase inhibitor developed by Gilead Sciences. This antiviral drug was also experimentally administered to infected Americans. The case of a 35-year-old with severe pneumonia raised high hopes, and after intravenous administration of the preparation began to recover almost day by day.

(article in Polish Daily – Gazeta Wyborcza)


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