In the race to find a Covid-19 vaccine, Singaporean scientists claim to have developed a process that expedites the process of evaluating possible vaccines for the novel coronavirus, an enemy the nations of the world are now fighting together.
According to a recent report by channelnewsasia.com, scientists from the Duke-NUS Medical School say they have come up with a way to significantly shorten the evaluation process of prospective vaccines for the Covid-19 virus from months to days. The technique, provided by one of the school’s partners, American biotech enterprise Arcturus Therapeutics, evaluates the genes and tracks the changes that take place, which is a key step in the development of a vaccine.
The school’s deputy director of its rising programme on infectious diseases, Ooi Eng Eong, said about the technique, “You can know from the way the genes change – what genes are turned on, what are turned off,” which speeds up the process wherein medical professionals single out the possible vaccine’s efficacy as well as its side-effects. This is a better process than merely relying on watching for the reactions of human bodies to the prospective vaccines, which takes a significantly longer period of time.
As medicines and vaccines which specifically battle the virus have yet to be approved by health authorities, this remarkable discovery has greatly advanced the cause for the international cooperative to find a remedy and a vaccine for Covid-19.
Mr Ooi stated that in about a week, testing on mice is set to commence, before the same is done on human beings.
The Duke-NUS scientists also played a key role in the successful culturing of the virus back in January, making Singapore the third country apart from China to do so. Another key trailblazing development was the creation of a test that could detect the virus’ antibodies within the systems of recovered patients.
“Everyone is racing ahead, but we are kind of writing the playbook as the game is being played,” said Mr Ooi.
The key development points to the fact that whereas in the past it would take years to develop and approve a vaccine, the technology and techniques made available today have greatly reduced that time frame.