Czech development of a COVID-19 vaccine has begun in a joint effort from scientists from the National Institute of Public Health (SZÚ), the Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (ÚHKT), and the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM), announced Czech Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch.
According to the head of the research team, Věra Adámková, the development of the vaccine will take months and cost tens of millions of korunas.
“The development around the virus may be such that a second or third wave could hit us. It is better to be prepared,” said Health Minister Adam Vojtěch.
According to him, the Czech Republic has excellent medical researchers, which allows it to join the few countries trying to develop the vaccine. It is also a question of self-sufficiency, he added.
“If some country develops the vaccine sooner, the question is, how available it will be. Given how widespread the pandemic is, the demand will be huge,” Vojtěch said.
According to him, the Czech Ministry of Health is ready to contribute financially to the costs associated with vaccine development.
“All scientists are working on it in their free time and for free, so it has not cost anything yet,” said Věra Adámková.
According to her, the first results of the research will be available in about two months.
“Effective antivirals are very difficult to develop, there are very few of them. Our future in prevention is vaccination,” Adámková added.
“If the first phase is successful, then our team will begin the process of preparing a preclinical and clinical trial,” said Petr Cetkovský, the director of the Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion. First, the vaccine will be tested on mice and rats.
“The aim will be to verify not only the effectiveness of the vaccine but also its safety,” added Michal Stiborek, director of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM).
The vaccine will be a so-called inactive vacccine or prepared from killed virus cells that the human body remembers and can fight them in the future.
Teams of scientists in Europe, Asia, and the United States are currently working on the development of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus vaccines. So far, there is no proven cure for COVID-19. The main weapon used to fight the virus is consistent isolation of people infected with coronavirus and social distancing measures.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hopes scientists will develop the vaccine by the end of the year, however, the World Health Organization expects the vaccination campaign to begin in a year at the earliest.