An American biotech company says it created a coronavirus vaccine three hours after getting access to the virus' genetic sequence on Jan. 9, and now scientists are racing to get the vaccine on the market in record time.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals is based in Pennsylvania, but scientists in its laboratory in San Diego made the discovery.
"We have an algorithm which we designed, and we put the DNA sequence into our algorithm and came up with the vaccine in that short amount of time," Inovio's research and development director Dr. Trevor Smith told KVUE.
Inovio's vaccine for COVID-19, as health officials have named the virus, could be ready as early as this summer. Inovio's stock jumped to $5.32 a share a few days after the company announced it was selected to work on a coronavirus vaccine. Shares are now at $3.34, back to where they were a month ago.
The American company is partnering with Beijing Advaccine, a Chinese company, to work on the vaccine.
"Inovio's participation in this developing effort is based on the ideal suitability of its DNA medicine platform to rapidly develop vaccines against emerging viruses with pandemic potential, proven vaccine development capabilities, and a strong track record of rapidly generating promising countermeasures against previous pandemic threats," the company said in a statement on Jan. 30. "Inovio was the first to advance its vaccine (INO-4700) against MERS-CoV, a related coronavirus, into evaluation in humans."
Another U.S. company, Maryland-based Novavax, is aiming to make a coronavirus vaccine in as little as three months, although such vaccines can take years to develop. The company made an Ebola vaccine in 90 days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.