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Effort To Develop Coronavirus Vaccine Underway In Connecticut

researcher facility
Jackie Filson
Connecticut Public Radio
Researchers from Meriden-based Protein Sciences Corp., a Sanofi company, will try to develop a vaccine that could fight COVID-19.

Scientists in Meriden are working on a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

Protein Sciences said its COVID-19 research will be based on a vaccine candidate produced in Meriden in the early 2000s to combat SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

Sanofi, the parent company of Protein Sciences, said it will collaborate on the development of the vaccine with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a federal Department of Health and Human Services agency. Clem Lewin manages Sanofi’s BARDA relationship.

“Given this is a public health emergency, we are trying to move this program ahead as fast as possible to ensure the vaccine is available as quickly as possible, and that is a significant challenge to our research team, to try and ensure we can do that without compromising the safety or efficacy of the vaccine,” Lewin said.

If the work stays on track, Lewin said it could take 12 to 18 months for human clinical testing.

Lewin said the SARS vaccine candidate didn’t progress to clinical trials because the threat from the disease subsided.

“There is that experience with SARS that suggests we can make a vaccine using this platform,” Lewin said.

Further, he’s confident in Sanofi’s ability to develop a vaccine over others because it produces the licensed influenza vaccine Flublok, which is available on the U.S. market. Lewin said the company has the manufacturing capacity to mass-produce doses of any successful vaccine.

Trackers at Johns Hopkins University say that more than 2,800 people worldwide have died from COVID-19.

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