An American biotech company says it created a coronavirus vaccine three hours after getting access to the virus’ genetic sequence in mid-January, and now scientists are racing to get the vaccine on the market in record time.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals is based in Pennsylvania, but scientists in its laboratory in San Diego made the discovery.
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“We were able to rapidly construct our vaccine in a matter of about three hours once we had the DNA sequence from the virus available because of the power of our DNA medicine platform,” Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s president and CEO, told FOX Business. “Our goal is to start phase one human testing in the U.S. early this summer.”
China has reported 254 new daily deaths and a spike in new daily virus cases of 15,152, after new methodology was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei as to how cases are categorized.
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Inovio’s stock jumped to $5.32 a share a few days after the company announced it was selected to work on a coronavirus vaccine.
The American company is partnering with Beijing Advaccine, a Chinese company, to work on the vaccine. Inovio also received $9 million to work on the vaccine from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is backed by billionaire Bill Gates.
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“We’ve done this many, many times before. The most relevant was building our vaccine against MERS virus, which is a coronavirus in the same family as COVID-19,” Kim said.
Inovio took a vaccine for Zika virus from construct design to human testing in the U.S. in less than seven months, Kim said.
“We’re planning to beat our own record,” he said. “Maybe we could do that in close to half that time.”
Inovio is building a coalition for the “war” against COVID-19 that will require scaling up to thousands upon thousands of doses, Kim said.
Another U.S. company, Maryland-based Novavax, is aiming to make a coronavirus vaccine in as little as three months, although such vaccines can take years to develop. The company made an Ebola vaccine in 90 days.