Imperial College London hopes to distribute low-cost vaccine against Covid-19

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 10, 2020 Published on June 10, 2020

Scientists and researchers from Imperial College, London, said that they hope to bring a cost-effective vaccine to the world early next year via a social enterprise — a company that does philanthropy while making a profit, as per a media report.

The college is developing a vaccine based on self-amplifying RNA technology. Instead of partnering with pharmaceuticals, the scientists have decided to set up a special company so that the vaccine can be accessed by poor countries as well.

“Right now we think the focus should be on how to solve the problem rather than how to make money out of it,” said Simon Hepworth, director of the enterprise at Imperial, as cited in the Indian Express report. The social enterprise, called VacEquity Global Health (VGH), is backed by Imperial College and Hong Kong-based Morningside Ventures.

The RNA vaccine developed by Imperial College gives genetic instructions to form the “spike” protein on the surface of the coronavirus. The presence of protein prompts an immune response, which in turn prevents the body from Covid-19.

The vaccine is now due to enter phase one and two human clinical trials on June 15 with 300 people. A further trial involving 6,000 people is planned for October and if these prove successful, Imperial speculated that the vaccine could be distributed in the UK and abroad early next year, Indian Express reported.

As of now, there are 224 candidate vaccines in development globally, according to the data collected by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). North America is leading the race with the largest number of projects — 49 per cent — China is the furthest along the track with five vaccines in phase II human trials, more than any other country.

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Published on June 10, 2020
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