Prague, May 4 (CTK) – The National Institute of Public Health (SZU), the Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (UHKT), and the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) have jointly started developing a vaccine against COVID-19, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (for ANO) said today.
“The disease may develop in such a way that its second or third wave is ahead of us. It is better to be prepared for it,” he told journalists.
The vaccine is to be prepared from killed viruses that the human body remembers, and is then able to fight their live forms in the future.
The research project head Věra Adámková, who is IKEM’s preventive cardiology department head doctor and an MP for ANO, said the development of the vaccine is in the laboratory stage now and it is to be known in two months whether this stage has been a success. Two further stages will take several more months.
Adámková said the vaccine development has not cost a single crown until now. “All the participants are working on it in their free time and for free,” she said.
Continued development of the vaccine is expected to cost tens of millions of crowns.
Vojtěch said his ministry is ready to cover a part of the costs related to the development of the vaccine, which began in late February.
“If a vaccine is made somewhere else sooner, it is a question how it will be available and to which countries. Given how widespread the pandemic is, the demand will be enormous,” he said.
Vojtěch said the development is a matter of self-sufficiency.
He said that thanks to its top research background, the Czech Republic is one of the few countries that is able to try to develop a vaccine. He added that Czech experts have sufficient experience thanks to intensive research and testing.
Adámková said it is very difficult to make effective antiviral drugs and there are very few of them. “Vaccination is our future in prevention,” she said.
“If the first stage is successful, our team will launch the process of preparation of pre-clinical and clinical evaluation,” UHKT director Petr Cetkovský said.
The vaccine will be tested on mice and sewer rats at first.
IKEM director Michal Stiborek said the aim will be to verify that the vaccine is not only efficient but also safe.
Research teams in Europe, Asia and the USA have been working on the development of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. There has been no verified drug for the COVID-19 disease yet and so the main measure in fighting it is complete isolation of the infected people from others.
The World Health Organisation expects that it will take at least one year before the vaccination campaign may start.