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Belgium vax candidate protects against Covid-19: Study

IANS | December 02, 2020 02:39 PM

LONDON: Belgium virologists have developed a vaccine candidate against Covid-19 based on the yellow fever vaccine, which as a result also works against yellow fever.

The study, published in the journal Nature, showed that the vaccine protects hamsters from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus after a single dose. The vaccine is also effective in monkeys. The team is currently preparing for clinical trials.

To engineer their vaccine, tentatively named RegaVax, the team from Rega Institute for Medical Research in Belgium, inserted the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 spikes into the genetic code of the yellow fever vaccine.

They tested the vaccine in healthy hamsters and monkeys. Another group of the animals received a placebo.

"In some of the monkeys, we observed neutralising antibodies already seven days after vaccination. After 14 days, high titers of neutralizing antibodies were measured in all animals." the study authors wrote.

"This is very fast. Moreover, in the vaccinated animals, the virus was completely or nearly completely gone from their throats, " they added.

RegaVax is a vector vaccine. It uses the genetic code of the yellow fever vaccine virus as a carrier (or vector) for the genetic code of the coronavirus spikes.

RegaVax works after one dose, unlike many of the front-runners in the race today, which require a repeat vaccination after one month.

"We expect that the vaccine will offer long-lasting immunity to Covid-19, " the authors said.

"It could therefore be an ideal candidate for repeat vaccinations when immunity decreases in people who have received one of the first-generation vaccines, " they wrote.

Finally, the vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degree Celsius, while some vaccines require a cold chain with temperatures down to -70 degree Celsius.

The team is now preparing for clinical trials next year and has joined forces with a specialised and accredited company that will produce the vaccine candidate for testing in humans.

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