The Tübingen biotechnology company Curevac is working feverishly on the development of a vaccine against the corona virus. Thorsten Schüller, the spokesman for Curevac, told tünews INTERNATONAL that two vaccines should be tested on around 100 people in June 2020. If this first clinical study shows good results, a second study with several thousand people would follow. A third phase with even more participants will then follow before the vaccine is approved. “A process like this usually takes several years,” says Schüller, “but because of the urgency caused by the pandemic, we expect the duration to be significantly shortened.” Like the head of the Robert-Koch-Institute, he considers spring 2021 to be a realistic timeline for a vaccine. This would enable Tübingen to produce several hundred million portions per year. In an extension that is currently under construction, production could be increased to several billion.
In addition to Curevac, several companies worldwide are trying to develop vaccines using similar methods. “But we don’t see ourselves in a race against these competitors, instead in a race against time. It is important to find a safe and effective active ingredient that will immunize people and not make them ill,” explained Schüller.
The method that Curevac uses is very innovative: “With our technology, we guide the human body to produce its own vaccine. For this we use the natural messenger substance mRNA, which we program with the information about the coronavirus and which is injected into human cells. The body recognizes the protein produced by our cells as something foreign and activates antibodies against it. In this way, we imitate the natural virus infection and activate the body’s own defense mechanism. “For this process, if everything works, only 1 microgram, i.e. one millionth of a gram of vaccine per person, will be required.”
Impressionen von der neuen Fieberamblanz des Landkreises Tübingen. Achtung: Termine nur über den Hausarzt! Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Mostafa Elyasian, 24.3.2020