Millions of doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine could be in production by the end of the year, according to a San Francisco-based scientist who has been praised by Dr. Anthony Fauci for his work in the past.
Immunologist Dr. Sean Tucker is currently trialing several different vaccine candidates at his California lab – some of which will enter human trials at the start of July, and all of which are delivered by tablet rather than injection.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Tucker said: ‘My hope is that us and others will be able to have very large vats of [vaccine] material, millions and millions of doses by the end of the year, early next year.
‘I mean, to me that doesn’t seem unreasonable given the amount of money the US Government and others have provided.
‘We hope that a vaccine solution will allow things to open up and for people to be going out and about again.’
Tucker, 52, is the chief scientific officer at Vaxart – a publicly listed biotech company that specializes in the development of oral recombinant vaccines.
Along with his eight-strong team, he has been working seven days a week since January in a bid to come up with a viable vaccination for Covid-19.
He currently has several contenders, all of which are being fast-tracked through trials.
The vaccines are made from a dead adenovirus – one of the causes of common colds – into which Tucker’s team have inserted some of the 30 genes that make up Covid-19’s DNA.
Adenoviruses are extremely common and behind approximately 10 percent of childhood illnesses and almost every child has had at least one illness caused by adenoviruses by the time they reach 10.
Tucker explained: ‘We essentially build in DNA that encodes proteins of Covid-19. If you put it in the intestine in the right context, you get a really strong immune response to those proteins.
‘Because we’re delivering it to a wet surface – the mucosa of the intestine – you get a great immune response throughout the blood but you also get antibodies and T cells at sites of the infection in the lungs.
‘That’s the way our vaccine works – it’s designed to mount an immune response on wet surfaces such as the respiratory tract, which Covid-19 infects.’
Tucker’s process begins with making the adenovirus in the lab and then attaching a bioengineered molecule that tweaks it and allows it to pass through the stomach and work in the intestine.
Covid-19 genes are then inserted into the virus. Not all are used, just those that appear likely to produce a strong immune response.
The vaccines are currently being lab tested for suitability for manufacture and simultaneously trialed on mice – and Tucker says the results have been promising so far.