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IRBM is close to a vaccine TG Com 24 – 13th March

ENGLISH TRANSCRIPT

REPORTER

Good evening Piero Di Lorenzo, Molecular Biology Research Institute.

You say you’re very close to a vaccine, how close?

PIERO DI LORENZO

Good evening. Yes, very close, because, as I said in another interview, we have combined our expertise with that of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute. They have…

REPORTER

In the meantime we’re just seeing images of your Institute and of the work you’re doing. I’m just saying this for the benefit of the people watching us of course. Go ahead.

PIERO DI LORENZO

Yes. As I was saying, Oxford University has great expertise in the Coronavirus family because it studied Sars for a long time and has developed and now tested the Mers vaccine. We have quite a major expertise, the platform to inoculate the human body with the modified gene we have synthetized, the one for the existing Coronavirus, which is Covid19.

So we are quite optimistic that this vaccine will be effective and won’t be toxic.

We’re going to start producing on Monday and we expect to make a thousand or so doses,

which will be enough to…

REPORTER

Now, Mr Di Lorenzo, I just want to understand this point. Next Monday you’ll be able to produce a thousand or so doses, what does that mean?

PIERO DI LORENZO

Next Monday we’re going to start producing the vaccine and we expect to have a thousand or so doses ready by May, which are sufficient for the trials on mice. By…

REPORTER

How long do animal trials of the vaccine take?

PIERO DI LORENZO

About a month. So by June we’ll have started and will be well advanced in the trials on mice and we hope to move on to humans by the end of June.

REPORTER

So can we just try to make the necessary procedures clear for someone who isn’t an expert? You’re saying that you’ll be starting animal trials in May. In June, once these trials are over, if everything has gone well and is convincing and satisfactory, the human trials can begin, is that right?

So what happens at that point?

PIERO DI LORENZO

The trials on humans start on quite a small number of healthy volunteers, maybe 10, 12, 15 people, and at the end of this initial trial phase we’ll move on to phase 2, when there will be 150/200…

REPORTER

How long does this trial take?

PIERO DI LORENZO

According to the protocols and regulations, each of the three phases can take twelve to eighteen months.

But clearly the times set by the regulations are the prescribed times.

REPORTER

Yes, of course.

PIERO DI LORENZO

Not in the presence of such a contagious epidemic.

REPORTER

In the presence of such a widespread, alarming and global epidemic, what kind of plausible and acceptable acceleration could there be, based on previous history?

PIERO DI LORENZO

The process can be accelerated a very great deal.

REPORTER

Meaning?

PIERO DI LORENZO

I mean that if the effectiveness and non-toxicity can be demonstrated in animals,

in the presence of a very dangerous epidemic which is, I dare say, out of control, national and international regulatory authorities can authorize the vaccine immediately.

REPORTER

What would the risks be Mr Di Lorenzo? What would the risks be?

PIERO DI LORENZO

There is a whole discussion to be had about that.

REPORTER

Let’s summarize it.

PIERO DI LORENZO

Very briefly, one has to determine which is the lesser evil. Like any drug, vaccines can have side effects. The side effects are…

REPORTER

This is behind the endless and fierce controversies there have been in recent months.

PIERO DI LORENZO

Precisely. I was referring to…

REPORTER

In recent years, although, given the emergency, they aren’t as fierce now…

PIERO DI LORENZO

Yes, that’s right…

REPORTER

…And, I should point out, the fear caused by the Coronavirus.

PIERO DI LORENZO

I want to stress that this is wrong… because it turns people into fans of one side or the other. It’s wrong to say that there are no problems with vaccines. Like any drug, vaccines can and do have side effects. It’s always important to apply the lesser evil principle. If a vaccine has a relatively minor side effect, in terms of the practical effect, and its extent, as a percentage, then…

REPORTER

Very clear. Mr Di Lorenzo, you have been very clear. I’d like to summarize further because we don’t have an endless amount of time…

PIERO DI LORENZO

Let’s summarize it in a word: please, get vaccinated. For everything.

REPORTER

Yes, but I wanted to summarize another point too. Of course, in that respect, I think many people can’t wait for the vaccine. To summarize, let’s say that by the end of June, end of July, we might already expect to be using a vaccine.

PIERO DI LORENZO

Yes.

REPORTER

Then it will be up to national and international authorities to say yes or no.

PIERO DI LORENZO

If the regulatory authorities consider it useful, and can’t see any contraindications, they can even start using it in July.

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