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Team Of Researchers In California Claim To Have ‘Readied’ Coronavirus Vaccine

As per the information, EpitopeRX is developing bacteriophage (phage) vaccines, pioneered by Dr. Carl Merril , who is an emeritus Lab Chief of the National Institute of Health (NIH).
(Representative Image)

By Purushottam Dhakal, LOS ANGELES: A team of American bioscience researchers in California have claimed that they have “readied” a technology that is working on making a coronavirus vaccine to be affordable to everybody.

“We are developing a novel vaccine technology that is ready for rapid production,” said a statement from Dr. Jonathan Merril, a member of the scientists’ team working on developing the vaccine.

As per the information, EpitopeRX is developing bacteriophage (phage) vaccines, pioneered by Dr. Carl Merril , who is an emeritus Lab Chief of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Phage technology has the potential to produce millions of doses of vaccine for COVID-19 in a few weeks at less than $2 per dose by expressing hundreds of viral antigens (COVID-19) on the surface of an engineered phage, according to the researchers.

“Production can be quickly scaled beyond that level to make enough for the world market at a low cost,” the researchers further said.

“Additionally, phage can be re-engineered in just a few days to produce a new vaccine if the pathogen mutates, which occurs at a higher rate in RNA viruses such as COVID-19. Phage also acts itself as an adjuvant to enhance immune response to the displayed antigens.”

The clinical trials should be rapid for a prompt administration of the coronavirus vaccine, as the researchers would observe. “The team is working with the Navy for clinical trials and development of the scalable vaccine production with a short local supply chains.”

This whole process and the campaign needs at least a funding of $ 1 million so that the vaccine could be available to the public at the earliest, according to Dr. Jonathan Merril.

As of today, the COVID-19 death toll has topped 1,000 in the United States and 21,000 globally, infecting hundreds of thousands in the mean time. This highly contagious virus infection has brought the US and global economy down, while people are struggling everywhere staying home, mostly without jobs.

The coronavirus vaccine project is a joint initiative of the country’s first Bioscience Fund, Los Angeles County and a public private partnership with the bioscience investment firm MarsBio and Curative, a Los Angeles based company hoping to increase Coronavirus testing to 10,000 per day by next week with a drive-through testing.

“These innovations have the potential to save lives and lift the local economy as well,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the principal author of the motion initiating the County’s $15 million contribution to what has become a $40 million Bioscience Fund through the public private partnership.

“The coronavirus outbreak has created unprecedented challenges for our society,” said MarsBio General Partner Llewellyn Cox.

“As the virus has spread to California and impacted our lives and economy, we have been inspired and the bioscience community of LA has stepped up to face this challenge head-on. We are dedicated to defeating this virus by supporting LA’s world-leading scientists as they look to develop effective and deployable solutions to push back against its spread,” Cox said.

In Los Angeles County alone, home to more than 10 million residents, 6,300 people were tested for COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

“I want to remind all of us that in these times that are less than ideal, we don’t have all the testing we wish we had,” said Public Health Director of LA County, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, adding that she is hoping to increase coronavirus testing to 10,000 per day next week with the initiatives of the Bioscience Fund.

Meanwhile, the LA County has confirmed 9 new deaths and 421 new cases of coronavirus. So far, 1216 coronavirus cases have been reported in LA County, while 21 have been reported dead, according to Public Health.

Published Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2020 | 06:12 PM

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