New vaccine ‘can prevent COVID-19 lung infection’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The new vaccine is being developed for people with advanced COVID-19 disease

The use of an open-sac type Pfizer virus may help protect patients against the potentially deadly infection COVID-19, says a new research study.

The new vaccine is being developed to give a better immune response than existing vaccines for the disease.

Up to 40,000 people with advanced COVID-19 have to be vaccinated every year in the UK.

The study, led by Imperial College London, suggests the new vaccine targets the COVID-19 component of the body’s defences.

This actually should be a bit more than a normal human vaccine, because we are killing off all the COVID-19 genes

Michael Gorny, research fellow

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

COVID-19 is a potentially deadly lung infection caused by pneumococcal viruses and is marked by a distinctive protein called COVID-19.

“Based on the current evidence, it’s thought that COVID-19 plays a key role in protecting humans from bacterial infection,” said Michael Gorny, senior research fellow at Imperial.

“We think our work provides important insight into the importance of the COVID-19 protein and how to target it in vaccines.”

“So far, the usual method for delivering the COVID-19 protein into the body has been not very effective, because it only kills some cells of the body’s immune system,” he added.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The COPIV immunotherapy vaccine for COVID-19 is still in clinical trials

“Because the COVID-19 protein plays such a crucial role in the human immune system, it actually should be a bit more than a normal human vaccine, because we are killing off all the COVID-19 genes.”

Understanding the protein itself could help the scientists develop a new vaccine for COVID-19, Mr Gorny said.

The findings are based on a new immunotherapy drug developed by Isis Pharmaceuticals, called COPIV (colytic immunotherapy).

Mammal experiments

It was used in a small animal experiment, which was just a single dose, and it caused the immune system to kill off COVID-19 cells.

Mr Gorny said: “We are starting this on humans, but it is important to keep in mind that COPIV is only a single dose and has a short development time.

“If something goes wrong, people may suffer severe side effects.”

So far, COPIV has been tested on patients in only Phase 1 clinical trials.

“After two to three years, we will have the option of testing it in Phase 2 and hopefully, perhaps Phase 3 and up,” said Mr Gorny.

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