According to Sputnik news - The Italian-made vaccine against COVID-19, which is likely to be available for the general population by spring 2021, will be easily adaptable to various strains of the virus, Scientific Director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani Giuseppe Ippolito told Sputnik.
On Monday, the Italian-made vaccine, developed by ReiThera biotech company, entered into phase one of human trials at the Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome, which has been closely collaborating with ReiThera. According to Francesco Vaia, medical director of Spallanzani Institute, the vaccine is set to be ready for use by spring 2021.
"The vaccine platform that is used by the Italian vaccine candidate, invented by Reithera, and based on a non-replicative viral vector, should not be strain-dependent. In any case, it is, however, easily adaptable to different viruses or strains of the same virus, "Ippolito said.
At the same time, Ippolito noted that until now, the scientific evidence showed that the mutations that Sars-CoV-2 underwent were insignificant.
According to the scientist, the very first results of the phase one will only be available in a couple of months, while the final results will be presented to the international scientific community only after the 24 weeks foreseen by the research protocol.
Ippolito also said that in Italy, the vaccine can be approved for population use only after a successful completion of phases 1, 2 and 3 of trials with a gradual increase in the number of volunteers. During phase 3, the vaccine should also be tested in the countries where there is a higher circulation of the virus and, therefore, a greater probability for those vaccinated to contract the infection.
"Spring 2021 is already an optimistic forecast, thinking now of the possibility of completing the experimentation earlier would not be serious," the scientist said.
Safety of the vaccine for various groups of population and possible contra-indications will only become clear once all phases are completed, Ippolito said, adding that the vaccine should receive an approval by the national regulatory agency - the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) - after that.
On the positive side, now there are many vaccine trials around the world, which use different technologies: we, therefore, expect multiple vaccines to be available sooner or later, each of which may also have efficacy profiles more suitable to specific demographic groups, "Ippolito said.
Apart from working on its own vaccine, Italy along with Germany, France and the Netherlands, has signed a contract with AstraZeneca to supply up to 400 million doses of vaccine that the company is developing with Oxford University to the European population. Experimentation phase of this vaccine is more advanced than that of the Italian-made one and is expected to end in autumn.