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UGA researchers helping develop coronavirus vaccine

UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology is already testing an experimental vaccine on animals, while human testing is underway in other labs.

ATHENS, Ga. — It's a race to unravel the secrets of a coronavirus vaccine.

Researchers at the University of Georgia and around the world are working around the clock to develop the vaccine that will make everyone immune.

“There is quite a sense of urgency,” said Dr. Ted Ross, the director of UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology in Athens. “We’ve never seen anything like this in over 100 years.”

Dr. Ross is leading the research team - part of the worldwide network of researchers sharing data on what they’re learning about the virus.

While some human trials are underway in other labs, the UGA researchers, using live samples of the coronavirus, are developing experimental vaccines that they are injecting into animals to “test them to see if they have the antibodies that will neutralize the real-live virus” to help unlock the secret weapon that can immunize us all.

Credit: WXIA
Dr. Ted Ross

Dr. Ross said researchers everywhere who are working on a vaccine are sharing data with each other. And he said everyone is sensing unprecedented responsibility and self-imposed pressure to get a vaccine on the market - possibly by a year from now.

“It is definitely a challenge. There is quite a sense of urgency that we feel in all of the research community towards this pathogen. And the sense of urgency at getting something done quickly is really putting a lot of pressure on the research community and the medical community," he said. "And we haven’t really experienced this in our lifetime. So there is a lot of anxiety, trying to come up with something effective that will work against this particular virus.”

Dr. Ross says the end-game is to create “herd immunity,” getting as many people inoculated as fast as possible--maybe sometime next year at the earliest.

“And once we get a large portion of the population immune to the virus, then even those that are not vaccinated or were not infected will end up being protected because we would reduce the spread and transmission among the population,” Ross said.

Credit: UGA Center for Vaccines and Immunology

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