Shafaq news/ Virologists from the Rega Institute at KU Leuven University found a vaccine that protects hamsters against the coronavirus, which they plan on testing on humans by the end of 2020.
This is one of the first vaccine candidates that is proven to protect lab animals from infections, the Institute announced in a press release. The aim is to start clinical trials on human subjects this winter.
The team, led by Professor Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier, started developing eight vaccine prototypes against the coronavirus. One of these vaccine candidates has shown in lab experiments that it is highly effective in hamsters.
When hamsters receive the SARS-CoV-2 virus through their nose, they develop a lung infection that is similar to Covid-19.
Healthy hamsters were first vaccinated, and exposed to the virus a couple of weeks later. Control groups each received one of two alternatives: the yellow fever vaccine, or a placebo.
“In the hamsters that received the vaccine candidate, we found up to half a million times fewer virus particles than in the control groups. These animals also did not develop any lung infections,” said Neyts.
Additionally, several animals were already protected within ten days after vaccination.
The vaccine candidate is based on the existing vaccine against yellow fever, into which the researchers inserted parts of the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Currently, negotiations with potential partners who have to produce the vaccine candidate for testing are still ongoing.