Potential coronavirus vaccine may be tucked away in Houston freezer, researchers say

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BySteve Campion KTRK logo
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Potential vaccine tucked away in Houston freezer
A Houston philanthropist might help with funding efforts for a coronavirus vaccine that is tucked away inside a Houston freezer.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A vaccine that could prevent COVID-19 coronavirus is tucked away inside a Houston freezer.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine worked on the vaccine for years following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. They did the painstaking work inside the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital.

Funding for the vaccine stopped in 2016, so they stored it in a freezer in order to save years of scientific progress.

Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, the co-director at the center, said they could restart the work if they're able to secure funding.

"This could be the answer. I think what we would like is to have someone give us the opportunity to test if it is the answer. If it stays in the freezer, we will never know if it was the answer," Dr. Bottazzi. "It's half-baked. It's basically sitting in the freezer because we never had the opportunity of moving it to toxicology or human testing because as you know in 2016, the priorities of SARS had already declined."

Dr. Bottazzi said they need about $3 million to restart the project. She's optimistic a philanthropist might decide to help with the efforts.

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