A pre-print in BioRxiv from a Beijing based biotechnology company company, Sinovac, describes protection of macaque monkeys from infection by SARS-CoV-2 by a vaccine candidate. The candidate is a “killed virus” vaccine prepared by inactivating live virus with beta-Propriolactone, a standard procedure used in inactivate other viruses for use as vaccines. Alum, used in many vaccines, was added to the killed virus preparation to elicit a stronger immune response. To my knowledge this is the first published report of protection of non-human primates by a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Preparatory studies of the vaccine candidate were conducted in mice. The vaccine candidate administered day 0 and day 7 elicited strong antibody responses that neutralized all eleven strains of SARS-CoV-2 isolated in China and several European countries. The majority of the antibodies were directed against the part of the spike protein, called the receptor binding domain, necessary for virus infection.

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Originally published on Forbes (April 25, 2020)