First COVID-19 vaccine test on animals successful
By Gong Zhe

A coronavirus vaccine developed in China has been proven effective in monkeys.

PiCoVacc, a vaccine made by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, used a very typical method to prevent the virus from infecting life forms: Putting a crippled virus into an animal's body, forcing its immune system to produce antibodies. The antibodies will also kill normal viruses.

The researchers injected the vaccine into rhesus macaques, a kind of monkey originating in India, and then exposed the monkeys to the novel coronavirus three weeks later.

Another week later, the monkeys that took the largest doses of the vaccine did not have the virus in their lungs, meaning that the vaccine worked.

Meanwhile, the monkeys that didn't get PiCoVacc caught the virus and developed severe pneumonia.

The vaccine has been undergoing human tests in China since mid-April.

PiCoVacc is not the only COVID-19 vaccine that carries the hope to end the pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Another similar product made by a Chinese military institution is being tested on humans. Sinopharm's product, using the same method as PiCoVacc, has entered the second phase of clinical trials.

But, it may become hard for developers to find volunteers for testing in the near future since the number of known coronavirus patients left in China is only in the hundreds. The same situation brought the development of SARS vaccines to a total stop back in 2003.

(Cover photo: Characterization of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, PiCoVacc. /Screenshot from Science Magazine)