Czechs announce project to develop Covid-19 vaccine

Illustrative photo: Pete Linforth, Pixabay / CC0

The Czech Republic has joined the worldwide race to develop vaccine against Covid-19, the Czech Ministry of Health announced on Monday. The development of the vaccine, which is currently in its first, laboratory phase, is likely to take months and is expected to cost tens of millions of crowns.

Illustrative photo: Pete Linforth,  Pixabay / CC0

Adam Vojtěch,  photo: ČTK / Michal Krumphanzl
Efforts to develop a vaccine against Covid-19 are being carried out by the National Institute of Public Health, the Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion and the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the Minister of Health, Adam Vojtěch, said the demand for a vaccine against Covid-19 will be huge and it was best for the Czech Republic to be as self-reliant as possible, as there was no guarantee that a vaccine developed in another country will be available for Czech citizens.

“We have been studying the new type of coronavirus for some time now and we have gathered enough information and experience to launch the development of the vaccine. The Ministry of Health is ready to financially support the organizations involved in this ambitious project.

“We don’t know yet how the pandemic will develop in the future. There could be a second or a third wave, so we better get ready for that. I think it is in the best interest of the Czech Republic to become self-sufficient in this respect.”

Illustrative photo: Gerd Altmann,  Pixabay / CC0
The project to develop the vaccine will be divided into three separate phases, each of which will be followed by a strict assessment procedure, Mr Vojtěch explained, adding that the institutions involved in the projects have already completed a feasibility study of vaccine production.

According to Pavel Březovský, director of the National Institute of Public Health, the National Reference Laboratory for the flu has been studying the new type of coronavirus since it first appeared in the Czech Republic.

“We have succeeded in creating a genome sequence of Covid-19, which is one of the 30 genome sequences of the virus currently listed by the WHO.

Illustrative photo: Mycroyance,  Flickr,  CC BY-NC 2.0
“We have also succeeded in cultivating Covid-19 and creating a certain stock that will be used to increase the responsiveness of the organism against the virus.”

The last organization to join the development of the vaccine against Covid-19 will be the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine. According to its director, Michal Stiborek, one of its aims will be to provide logistic support in the testing of cell cultures.

“The second area of cooperation will be pre-clinical trials of the vaccine on laboratory animals. The goal of these experiments will be to find out the ability of the vaccine to provoke an immunity reaction, but also to verify the safety of the vaccine in terms of possible side-effects.”

There are currently more than 80 vaccines against Covid-19 being developed worldwide.