Researchers seeing encouraging results in potential vaccine for preventing COVID-19
A group of doctors, including some at the University of Iowa, believe they are one step closer to finding a vaccine that could prevent someone from getting the novel coronavirus.
A lead researcher with the University of Iowa, Dr. Paul McCray, says he is shifting his focus and bringing all of his attention to streamline effort towards potentially eliminating the risk of contracting the virus.
McCray, a Professor of Pediatrics and Pulmonary Medicine has with the UI Carver College of Medicine, says he has researched different coronaviruses for years- not the coronavirus that has gained headlines in recent months, but in a much bigger picture than only COVID-19.
McCray and a doctor from the University of Georgia teamed up to study MERS, which stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. He and his team use mice to test whether their developed vaccine, could prevent a spread similar to what the world has seen in recent months.
"What we found, to our pleasant surprise, was that all of the mice that we immunized survived," McCray said. "Whereas all of the control mice that got PIV5 without the spike of protein, those mice all succumbed."
Those positive results could lead them to keep people from potentially getting COVID-19, acquired from the coronavirus called "SARS-CoV-2"- and after two years of intermittent work, they are working more now than ever before.
"It's definitely gone from the back burner to the front burner turned up to ten, so we're focused on this," McCray said.
McCray said if all goes well, he could start testing the vaccine on people in the fall, and it could help those in the future who have not been infected.
"Even if there's a first wave of this virus and it settles down, we have many, many unprotected people," McCray said. "So the goal of a vaccine is to protect those people. I hesitate to predict the future but based on what we know about other coronaviruses and what's happening with this one, I think it's possible that this virus is going to be with us- perhaps through the Fall, perhaps into the next year and beyond. We don't know. So because of that, it's very important to develop a vaccine, and I think there will be plenty of people who will be interested in being protected once we figure out what the best vaccine is."
McCray said they should be able to test their vaccine specifically on SARS-CoV-2 in about a month, and they could potentially begin testing on humans in the Fall.