A Texas-based genetic engineering company claims to have created a vaccine to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is hoping to have the drug approved and available to the public by the end of the year.
John Price, the CEO of Greffex, told Fox News Monday that he was completely “confident” in his company’s new vaccine.
“We’re confident in the vaccine, the quality of the vaccine completely. The end result will be what the government wants to do in terms of testing,” Price said.
The company had previously created a vaccine to combat MERS and that research helped them develop the new vaccine. MERS “has a tremendous number of similarities” to the coronavirus, Price explained.
The vaccine is still in the testing stage, and if approved, could be available to the public by year’s end, he said.
When asked whether there was a way to fast track the approval process, Price answered that it would be a “policy decision for the government.”
“That’s always the $100 million question. The earliest that we think would be the end of the year. The latest would be 18 months. But we think that we could – depending on the approval process of the government – get something in 2020,” he said.
“Yesterday was the first time I heard people say it’s a pandemic,” Price added. “If it’s truly a pandemic, then you can pretty much do whatever you want. The process is roughly four weeks for the first animal testing and then you go into human trials. And that’s the part that will be determined by the government.”
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and his team, meanwhile, are working on a separate vaccine which could take up to 18 months to prove safety and effectiveness. The FDA has granted approval for the National Institutes of Health to begin the first stage of clinical testing in that vaccine.
Media-driven panic about the virus has contributed to a jittery and unnerved stock market in recent days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,500 points in early trading, Monday.
By comparison, the CDC estimates that 35.5 million people got sick with seasonal influenza in the United States during the 2018–2019 season, with an estimated 16.5 million people going to a health care provider for their illness. According to the CDC, there have been 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths from influenza, this season.
Unfortunately, the global death rate for COVID-19 is 3.4 percent, which is much higher than the common flu, according to the World Health Organization.