HAVANA, March 23th A group of Chinese and Cuban scientists are working together to develop a vaccine that seeks to combat new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, official sources from both countries confirmed.
According to the Xinhua news agency, researchers from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana are working with Chinese scientists at a Joint Research and Development Center, opened at the end of 2019 in the city of Yongzhou, in the province of Hunan.
Pan-Corona is the name of the vaccine candidate that aims to “protect against various strains of the coronavirus, based on both antibody responses and cellular responses, which are the two components of the immune reaction,” the report said.
“It is a strategy that could protect against epidemiological emergencies of new strains of coronavirus that may exist in the future,” Dr. Gerardo Guillén, director of Biomedical Research at CIGB, told the Chinese media.
The idea is to combine regions of viruses that are conserved and not so exposed to variation to generate antibodies, and conserved regions directed at cellular responses said the Cuban specialist, who also pointed out that this will not be a “super vaccine,” but that it will be a more complex drug than those existing to date “because it is more difficult to protect against the different strains of coronavirus that we still don’t know.”
“Since the emergence of the pandemic in China, the authorities of the province (of Hunan) asked us to work on projects aimed at combating the virus and we proposed several, including this one that has even been approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology,” explained the doctor in Biological Sciences, who in 1997 led a Cuban vaccine project against dengue.
Guillén pointed out that in China they have the equipment, logistics, resources and scientific capacity necessary to carry out this vaccine candidate, while the island will contribute its experience and development of its professionals in the biotechnology sector who, when the epidemiological conditions permit, will join the Yongzhou-based laboratory.
The information from Xinhua recalls that the internationally recognized Cuban biotechnology industry has developed 16 projects for new treatments and medical technologies to prevent and combat COVID-19, of which eleven are in clinical studies or trials with patients and risk groups, among which there are five vaccine candidates.
In addition, it pointed out that Cuban scientists are working on the evaluation of five other products for preventive purposes, to stimulate innate and adaptive immunity in different risk groups, including medical and health personnel.