KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has joined the global race to develop vaccines for Covid-19.
Institute for Medical Research Malaysia (IMR) will collaborate with Malaysian Vaccines and Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd (MVP) and Universiti Malaya Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre (TIDREC) to begin testing existing local vaccines against the Covid-19 agent.
The existing local vaccines used in this research will be those for the Infectious Bronchitis virus (IBV), an avian coronavirus.
The collaborative work is based on research previously done by scientists in other countries which found out that IBV in poultry reportedly have high genetic similarity with human coronavirus.
According to a statement, it is hoped that a human vaccine could be developed using the poultry IBV vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Testing will be conducted in Universiti Malaya’s TIDREC, one of Malaysia's modular biosafety level 3 (BSL3) facilities, previously used to study highly pathogenic agents such as MERS Coronavirus and Nipah Virus.
“If successful, the country will potentially have a human vaccine to go into clinical trials soon.
“Under normal circumstances, vaccine development takes 15 to 20 years, and this approach will enable the availability of Covid-19 vaccine sooner than expected,” the statement added.