An Anglo-Italian partnership is on the frontline in the development of a coronavirus vaccine, which could be ready in September, researchers said.
The venture brings together Italian company Advent-IRBM — based in the city of Pomezia, south of Rome — and the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford.
The team has accelerated human testing of the vaccine, which will start in the U.K. at the end of April.
“In light of the data acquired in the last few weeks, the first batch of the vaccine will leave for England, where tests will start on 550 healthy volunteers,” said Piero Di Lorenzo, the CEO and founder of Advent-IRBM.
Di Lorenzo explained that the team has decided to move forward with human tests after they confirmed the “non-toxicity” of the vaccine, which resulted from effective laboratory tests.
“If the phase 1 of clinical trials is successful, we expect to have the vaccine ready for use to vaccinate health personnel and law enforcement officers as early as September,” Di Lorenzo said.
Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinology expert at Oxford University, also expressed optimism on the results of the trials. On Saturday, she told the British daily The Times that she is “80% confident” that the vaccine being developed by her team would work.
Di Lorenzo also added that talks are underway with a pool of international investors and several governments for a “relevant investment,” which would further speed up the development of the vaccine and its industrial production.
Scientists and researchers are racing globally against time to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which has so far claimed more than 120,400 worldwide, according to the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. Overall, the virus has spread to 185 countries since it first emerged in China in December.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 70 vaccines are currently being developed, three of which have already received approval to be tested on humans.