Existing polio vaccine could help protect against coronavirus, say top experts
Oral poliovirus vaccine could provide temporary protection against coronavirus disease, say researchers in a new study. An oral polio vaccine is safe, cheap, easy to give and widely available, with over 1 billion doses produced and used annually in over 140 countries, say experts.
As the world races to produce an antidote to fight the novel coronavirus, some experts are looking at the possibility of using a polio vaccine as a way to provide temporary protection against the deadly disease. More than 7.4 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, including at least 417,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
A team of experts wrote in Science magazine on Thursday that there is plenty of evidence that existing inoculations such as polio vaccines protect children against a wide range of infections and it's worth trying them out against the new coronavirus.
An oral polio vaccine is safe, cheap, easy to give and widely available, with over 1 billion doses produced and used annually in more than 140 countries, according to the team. The vaccine has nearly eradicated polio worldwide.
The oral polio vaccine uses a weakened version of the polio virus. The live attenuated vaccines produce a strong and long-lasting immune response, vaccine experts said. They're slower to manufacture than modern vaccines that just use a piece of genetic material from a virus, and the US and European companies working on coronavirus vaccines are focusing on quicker ways.
It would make sense to at least test it to see if it helps against coronavirus, said Konstantin Chumakov of the FDA and Dr Robert Gallo of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, and colleagues.
"Oral poliovirus vaccine in particular, could provide temporary protection against coronavirus disease," they wrote.
Vaccines in development around the world are in various stages of testing. Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said he's confident one of the vaccine candidates will be proven safe and effective by the first quarter of 2021.
According to a report in the New York Times, the Donald Trump administration has selected five companies, including Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc, as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the highly-contagious disease.
The other companies are Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co Inc. The selected companies will get access to additional government funds, help in running clinical trials, and financial and logistical support.