The vaccine candidate, CoVaxix, was successfully tested on mice and work on its development will now proceed to a second phase of trials on monkeys, SSI said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Human trials could take place before the end of 2020, according to the research institute.
Researchers led by lead virologist, Professor Anders Fomsgaard, found that the potential vaccine produced antibodies which neutralised SARS-CoV-2 – commonly known as the new coronavirus – with the same or a greater strength when compared to people who have developed immunity following recovery from infection with the virus.
“Furthermore, the vaccine produces cell immunity, which protects against disease by eliminating virus-infected cells. That is very desirable for vaccines, but something far from all vaccines are capable of,” Fomsgaard said in the statement.
“Both neutralising antibodies and cell immunity are important for the body’s ability to block and protect against future Covid-19 infection. And cell immunity vital for the body’s ability to slow virus production and virus secretion, so you can limit both the Covid-19 disease and the infection of others,” he added.
Testing the vaccine on humans is subject to stringent safety criteria and therefore takes time, but researchers are working to expedite the process where possible, SSI said.
“In order to save time we now want to initiate trials on monkeys to test whether or not the monkeys become protected against subsequent Covid-19 infection. In parallel, enough CoVaxix will be produced for both initial human testing in phase 1, which is expected to begin at the end of autumn 2020 or at the start of 2021; and for the continued testing in phase 2,” Fomsgaard said.
CoVaxix is a spike-based DNA variant of non-living vaccine, SSI writes. It prepares an individual’s immune system to fight the virus by subjecting it to a small part of the surface of the virus without the rest of the virus attached.
The World Health Organization lists on its website potential vaccines currently in development worldwide.
The list, which was last updated on July 7th, shows 21 trials with planned phase 1 research. A number of others are working towards that phase.
SSI’s work is therefore one of many efforts worldwide to develop a vaccine. Its success so far is cause for optimism, according to a global health expert at the University of Copenhagen.
“This is certainly positive. Denmark is very much able to contribute in the development of a vaccine and has a long history of vaccine production,” Flemming Konradsen, a professor of global health at the university, told national broadcaster DR.
“The more horses there are to back, the better. We know that far from all vaccine candidates will make it. It’s necessary to develop and test a lot of them before you get a sufficiently effective vaccine without side effects,” Konradsen said.