"Given the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic, we are talking about weeks, not months of approval procedures.”
Rabat – A team of researchers at the Swiss University of Bern said that their newly developed vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready to roll out by October.
Head of the Department of Immunology at the University of Bern, Martin Bachmann, told the German Press Agency (DPA) on April 22 that the team had already conducted successful trials on mice.
Bachmann’s team based its research on the gene sequence of Sars-CoV-2 that China published in January to isolate the proteins that allow the virus to latch on to human cells.
“Given the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic, we are talking about weeks, not months of approval procedures,” said Lukas Jaggi, a spokesperson for Switzerland’s national medical regulatory body, Swissmedic.
“The time schedule is extremely optimistic, but it is not totally far-fetched,” he told DPA.
Jaggi claimed that if the vaccine meets international safety requirements, a decision to green-light human use could come before the end of the year.
Bachmann told Swiss public television channel RTS 1 that his research team is among the best, and that they are working with the University of Bern and the University Hospital of Zurich.
Vaccines are generally developed in a laboratory before being tested on animals, and finally on healthy human beings.
“We have scheduled clinical studies in August and after eight weeks we can extend them to all of Switzerland,” Bachmann elaborated.
“This is a big team, not just a small group trying to do it,” he added. The Swiss vaccine team includes Latvian and Chinese partners.
Several laboratories around the world are racing to develop the vaccine, including in China, Australia, Europe, and the US. The World Health Organization lists more than 80 vaccines as under development.
The first human trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine began on March 3 in Seattle, Washington. All volunteers in the ongoing trial are healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55.