A candidate vaccine targeting Covid-19 has been tested on animals, according to a report published last week on news portal yicai.com, citing sources with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vaccine, which targets messenger RNA (mRNA) in the virus, was co-developed by the CDC, Shanghai-based Tongji University School of Medicine and Stermirna Therapeutics Co., Ltd. The vaccine samples were injected into more than 100 mice Sunday, the report said. This came just two weeks after the centre successfully isolated the first new coronavirus strain on January 24.
A CDC official warned that the animal testing was at a very early stage of vaccine development and there were still many steps to be taken before the vaccine is ready to be used on humans.
Testing on mice was only an initial screening of a candidate vaccine. After that there would be toxicity tests on larger animals such as monkeys to ensure the safety of the vaccine in human clinical trials, said the report, citing a researcher of Tongji University.
The development and production cycle of the mRNA vaccine is shorter than that of traditional vaccines. A number of research institutes and companies around the world are stepping up efforts to develop vaccines and agents against the novel coronavirus spreading around the world, which has already exceeded the death toll from the global outbreak of SARS that started in China almost two decades ago.