Latest in novel coronavirus vaccine development race

Local News

LAS VEGAS (CBS) — As the number of coronavirus cases rises, scientists around the world are committing entire labs to create a vaccine.

Just last week, researchers in Washington state conducted their first vaccine test in a person. There is also another vaccine being developed in Gaithersburg, Maryland that’s seeing positive results after a few weeks of trials.

Inside these test tubes and beakers could be a big step forward in the fight against the coronavirus.

Dr. Gregory Glenn is the head of research and development for Pharma-Tech Lab, NOVAVAX. He and his team have spent weeks developing a vaccine.

“Vaccines have, traditionally, had an eight to ten-year time frame for development. Clearly that’s not a scenario that’s acceptable here, so we’re going to try to compress this timeline if, at all, possible,” said Dr. Gregory Glenn, President, Research & Development, Novavax

Researchers around the world are sharing information with one another, picking and plugging away at data scientists think will help fast-track a vaccine.

Dr. Glenn says he’s close to a potential solution, a ‘spike protein’ or ‘adjuvant’, that will be used to block the virus from attaching to a host.

“I think a vaccine is going to have to have a very high level of immune responses to block that because it’s going to be extremely hard to interrupt that binding and interrupting that binding will keep you from getting sick,” said Dr. Gregory Glenn, President, Research & Development, Novavax.

Scientist in Houston, Texas says they’re building off a vaccine they created to fight another type of coronavirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

“If you learned how to make a vaccine for MERS, you should have 75% of the knowledge you need to get to the next vaccine. That’s how come we were able to do it, to do it that quickly,” said John Price, CEO, Greffex Inc.

Dr. Glenn says the path to a treatment is complicated but he’s cautiously optimistic.

When asked how the next six months or year could look like in terms of the development of a vaccine and how severe this could get, Dr. Glenn responded, “Well, in terms of vaccine development, I think we’ll have evidence in humans that it could work.”

Dr. Glenn hopes to start testing in people by the end of Spring.

Doctors at the Moderna lab in Seattle say while a commercially-available vaccine wouldn’t be available for another year to 18 months, they’re looking at an ’emergency-use’ vaccine that could be available for health care professionals by the fall of this year.

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