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Yellow fever vaccine also seems to work against COVID-19

Yellow fever vaccine also seems to work against COVID-19

A yellow fever vaccine, which is already around 80 years old, also seems to work against COVID-19. Virologists from the Rega Institute at the Belgian university KU Leuven have booked good results with this vaccine in tests on hamsters.

The Belgian researchers will begin the first human clinical trials at the end of this year.

Virus barely detectable after vaccination

The team is led by Professor Johan Neyts and Dr. Kai Dallmeier started in January with the development of eight variants of a vaccine against the new coronavirus. The trials identified a candidate vaccine that seems to work particularly well in hamsters. Following the administration of this vaccine, the virus was no longer or barely detectable in the lungs of the hamsters.

A single dose already provides protection

“We saw up to half a million times less of the virus infection in the hamsters receiving the vaccine than in the hamsters from the control groups. The animals were also spared from all lung infections. However, the test animals̵

7; lungs in the control groups were clearly damaged, Neyts explains. Even a single dose of the candidate vaccine was enough to protect against the infection. This also occurred in several animals even within ten days of vaccination.

The candidate vaccine was produced based on the existing yellow fever vaccine and thus can trigger an immune response in both COVID-19 and yellow fever in the test animals. Part of the genetic code for the SARS-CoV-2 virus was incorporated into the yellow fever vaccine. The team had already used this platform to make candidate vaccines against Ebola, Zika and Rabies.

“The yellow fever vaccine has proven its effectiveness more than once”

“The yellow fever vaccine has proven its effectiveness more than once,” Neyts continues to explain. “It has already been used for about eighty years and nearly 800 million people have been vaccinated with it during that period. A dose of the vaccine results in lifelong protection against yellow fever. Of the more than 160 vaccines that are being developed to fight COVID-19, we are the only ones using yellow fever as a base. “

“To select the most potent of the eight prototype vaccines, we tested not only which prototype generates the most antibodies in hamsters, but also which offers the most effective protection against infection. This increases our chances of finding a successful candidate, says Professor Neyts. “Only by using an infection model will you be able to find out if one or more doses are needed and how quickly the vaccine will be effective enough after vaccination.”

The candidate vaccine stimulates the body to produce antibodies against the protrusions of the coronavirus and thus prevents the virus from attaching to healthy cells.

Are you looking for manufacturing partners

Given that an experimental vaccine from a research laboratory cannot simply be administered to humans, a specialist company that is accredited for this purpose must now manufacture the candidate vaccine. This is done according to the strictest quality standards. The team is currently in talks with manufacturing partners.

“If everything else continues to work smoothly, we expect to start the first clinical trials on humans after the winter,” said Kai Dallmeier, who runs the vaccine team. “It usually takes at least ten years to develop a vaccine. So we worked at a very fast pace. And we are not alone: ​​many vaccines are being developed all over the world. This is good because at this stage it is important to be able to bet on different horses. “

The study “A strong single dose live attenuated YF17D vectored vaccine against SARS-CoV-2” by Lorena Sanchez Felipe et al. was published on the pre-print bioRxiv server pending peer review.

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