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Covid-19, the vaccine and the Italian-English bet: "We will be ready in September"

By Chiara Rambaldi.

A vaccine for Coronavirus? 5 potential vaccines are already being tested, thanks to the collaboration between the Pomezia laboratory (Rome) and Oxford, which claim they are doing their best, but they are not sure the vaccine will arrive in September for everyone.

Piero Di Lorenzo, CEO of IRBM. Picture credit IRBM

Of the fifty vaccines running as candidates for the prevention of the pandemic, one of the most launched and accredited solution seems to be the one studied in a laboratory in Pomezia, a small centre in the province of Latina, Rome. The Italian company Advent-Irbm and the Jenner Institute of Oxford University, two of the best research centres in the world, have announced that clinical trials on 550 healthy volunteers will begin in late April in England.

According to Piero Di Lorenzo, CEO of IRBM, some doses may be available already in September in compassionate use, that is to say before the authorizations of the drug agencies, a procedure that is triggered in emergency situations, when there is evidence that a drug can work, and that it is not harmful and there are no therapeutic and prophylaxis tools to try to intervene on the epidemic that cannot be otherwise contained.

Attention, however: the initial, reduced distribution must not make us think of an imminent large-scale vaccine employment for the population. If the vaccine works, we can talk about it again next year for the rest of the population.

The first vaccine shots outside of the tests will concern health personnel and law enforcement, then the possible enlargement on the basis of certain answers and the go-ahead from regulatory bodies.

However, the news must be handled with great caution. In the last month, the announcements about the vaccine have multiplied and the failures are to be taken into account. But here the premises of seriousness are there. Giovanni Rezza, director of the Infectious Diseases Center at the Higher Institute of Health in Italy, is cautious: "There is a great acceleration in research, regulatory agencies are more generous in giving authorizations.


The advantage of the Pomezia-Oxford project is to be able to take advantage of a platform already used for the anti-Ebola vaccine, which is a promising candidate like others in experimentation”. With “Platform” we mean a viral vector taken from monkeys, harmless to humans, capable of expressing the Spike protein and inducing an immune response. Spike allows the virus to attack the lining cells of the bronchi and lungs and was discovered at Jenner, Oxford. The goal of the inoculations is to induce the response of the immune system, to make it produce neutralizing antibodies to the virus.

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