How long to develop a vaccine? Antonio Lanzavecchia talks with CdT


Institutional Communication Service

23 March 2020

The journalist Giona Carcano of Corriere del Ticino interviewed Antonio Lanzavecchia, Director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine affiliated to USI, about the development of a coronavirus vaccine: how are vaccines produced and how long does it take?

There is a lot of confusion in the media about the alleged timing of the development of a coronavirus vaccine. In the article, according to Lanzavecchia "Typically, the development of a new vaccine implies several years of research followed by the three phases of clinical trials that must determine safety and efficacy. Currently, the most optimistic estimates for COVID-19 are that an effective vaccine would be available in just 12-18 months".

The journalist invited Lanzavecchia to clarify the process leading to the creation of a vaccine, a sophisticated approach "which is based on the identification of what we might call the Achilles heel of the virus, the molecule needed by the virus to infect the host cells. Once identified, this molecule can be produced in the laboratory and administered in a proper form in order to generate specific antibodies capable of neutralising the virus". Thanks to the timely exchange of virus sequencing data by Chinese researchers, it has also been possible to quickly develop diagnostic tests to identify and contain the infection.

IRB in 2004 was the first to isolate antibody to SARS-1 virus and later to MERS, another lethal form of coronavirus. In more recent news, the Institute has received European funding to study the new virus.


Read the full interview by Giona Carcano in the attachment.