[MEDIA RELEASE] Malaysia joins global race to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Seated from left Hjh Rashidah Ibrahim, Executive Director of MVP, Dr Hj Tahir Aris and Principal Private secretary to Dep Minister of Health, En Ubaidah Azman. With the rest of senior management of IMR and MVP


Dated 23 March 2020

Malaysia joined the global race to develop vaccines for COVID-19. Institute for Medical Research Malaysia (IMR) today has agreed to collaborate with Malaysian Vaccines and Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd (MVP), a local veterinary vaccines manufacturer and Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Center (TIDREC) of University Malaya to embark on the testing of existing local vaccines for Infectious Bronchitis virus (IBV), an avian coronavirus, against SARS COV 2, the causative agent for the COVID19 disease.

The collaborative work will replicate what the scientists from Israel has done as written in an article in Jerusalem Post. The Israeli claimed that IBV in poultry has high genetic similarity with human coronavirus. Human vaccine may be developed using poultry IBV vaccine for the COVID19 pandemic outbreak. This testing is known as a neutralization test, which will be conducted using the hyperimmune serum raised from the IBV vaccine. The serum containing the antibodies raised from the IBV vaccine will be used to neutralize live virus of SARS COV2, and evaluate the neutralization efficacy of the antibody against the disease. The study will reveal if there is a cross reaction between antibodies from an avian coronavirus vaccine with the SARS-COV2 virus.

Testing will be conducted in TIDREC UM, one of the country’s only modular biosafety level 3 (BSL3) facility which has been used to study highly pathogenic agents such as MERS Coronavirus and Nipah Virus. The purpose of the study is to test whether the prepared hyper immune serum against IBVM41 or IBVH120 produced in SPF chickens can neutralize COVID-19 agent, the SARS-CoV-2. If virus neutralization test shown to have cross reactivity between antibodies of IBV vaccine with SARS-CoV2, then those IBV vaccines used in poultry may be used to develop vaccine for human against COVID-19.

If successful, the country will potentially have a human vaccine to go into clinical trial soon. In the normal circumstances, vaccine development takes 15 to 20 years, and this approach will enable availability of COVID19 vaccine sooner than expected.


**All previous posts about COVID-19 here: https://sciencemediacentremalaysia.com/tag/covid-19/

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