UPMC doctors say they have developed a coronavirus vaccine
By David Wenner
PITTSBURGH –Doctors and researchers at UPMC in Pittsburgh said Thursday they have created a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and are seeking federal permission to begin testing it for safety.
They said they began working on it Jan. 21 and found mice had developed antibodies against COVID-19 about two weeks after receiving the vaccine. They said they based the vaccine on work previously done at UPMC that sought to create vaccines to protect against SARS and MERS, which they said are similar to the new coronavirus.
National experts have been saying it will take 12-18 months until a vaccine to fight COVID-19 is available. The UPMC researchers said their timetable will depend on approvals and feedback from the federal government, and they don’t know how long it will take. However, they hope the need for the vaccine will lead to an “expedited” approval process.
They said they are ready to begin trials as soon as they receive government approval.
They further said their vaccine is one that is easily scalable to produce in large quantities. It also includes a unique delivery method in which hundreds of tiny needles are in a patch similar to a Band-Aid, with the needles, made of sugar and protein particles, dissolving into the skin to deliver the vaccine.
Even as UPMC doctors were announcing the possible vaccine, the Pennsylvania Department of Health revealed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state has risen by 1,211 in the past 24 hours, to 7,016.
The number of dead increased by 16, to 90. Nationwide, more than 3,600 people have died of COVID-19, according to totals posted Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.