Amid concern over COVID-19, the new coronavirus disease that is now spreading across the United States, many have called for the swift development of a vaccine that could slow — or stop — the spread of the illness. Now, it looks like one company in Texas that has answered that call.
According to Fox News, a Houston-based firm known as Greffex claims that it has developed a vaccine that is ready to move to the first phase of testing as required by the government.
The company says it could have a working vaccine available to the public as soon as the end of this year.
Ready for testing
John Price, CEO of the Greffex genetic engineering firm, joined Fox co-host Jon Scott on America’s Newsroom on Monday to discuss the major breakthrough his company was on the verge of making.
“We’re confident in the vaccine, the quality of the vaccine, completely,” Price said when asked how his company felt about what it had developed. “The end result will be what the government wants to do in terms of testing.”
Asked how the potential vaccine was developed so quickly, Price said his company used as a platform a vaccine it developed previously to combat Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
“The disease we’re working with now, COVID-19, has a tremendous number of similarities between this and MERS,” Price told Fox. “So what we were able to do is take the knowledge,” he said, and build upon it for the new vaccine.
Price also said that the new virus is closely related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), adding that, because all viruses “morph” over time, it is necessary to develop new and updated vaccines regularly.
Fast-tracking the process?
Per government regulations, the new vaccine must first be tested on animals, a phase that takes about a month, prior to testing involving human subjects to determine if the vaccine is workable or not. Asked how soon that could be completed, Price said: “That’s always the $100 million question.
“The earliest that we think would be the end of the year,” the CEO added. “The latest would be 18 months. But we think that we could — depending on the approval process of the government — get something in 2020.”
As for fast-tracking the approval process, Price said that would be a “policy decision” left entirely up to the government, as well.
“Yesterday was the first time I heard people say it’s a pandemic. If it’s truly a pandemic, then you can pretty much do whatever you want,” Price said. “The process is roughly four weeks for the first animal testing and then you go into human trials. And that’s the part that will be determined by the government.”