Two Va. universities developing COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Scientists at two Virginia universities are developing a coronavirus vaccine candidate that showed promising results during animal testing.

The vaccine was developed by virus experts at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, and so far it has only been tested on pigs.

“Pigs are very similar to humans in their genetics, physiology, and anatomy, perhaps the closest model to humans next to non-human primates,” according to an article written by the researchers, which has yet to be peer-reviewed.

The scientists made two vaccines, one for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and another one to protect against the pig coronavirus.

They found that both vaccines produced a “potent” immune response in the subjects and “provided significant protections against clinical disease.” The vaccines did not prevent getting sick, but they observed “significant protections against severe disease,” the findings reported.

The candidate vaccine would cost only $1 per dose, U.Va. Health Dr. Steven Zeichner, one of the researchers, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And while the currently approved vaccines are free to most in the U.S., they cost the U.S. between $10 to $19.50 per dose.

The Virginia/Virginia Tech vaccine would also be “easy to store and transport, even in remote areas of the world, and could be produced in mass quantities using existing vaccine-manufacturing factories,” Virginia Tech Daily reported.

The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored in ultracold temperatures, -112 to -76 degrees Fahrenheit; Moderna between -13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit; and Johnson & Johnson between 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The new vaccine platform utilizes a genome-reduced bacteria to express the coronavirus vaccine antigen on its surface. Such a vaccine platform can be manufactured with low cost in existing facilities around the world, which could meet the pandemic demand,” Virginia Tech professor X.J. Meng told Virginia Tech Daily.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.

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