Meet the Houston doctors working on coronavirus vaccine

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Doctors and researchers in Houston are at the forefront when it comes to fighting the coronavirus. They are working on two different vaccines for the virus.

The same group of researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine worked on a vaccine for the SARS virus years ago.

In fact, inside of their freezer, they still have the vaccine. They showed ABC13 a sample on Wednesday, which will soon be produced in a large batch for clinical trials.

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"We give them the recipe and somebody is going to reproduce it how we have it here," said Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi with the Center for Vaccine Development at the Baylor College of Medicine.

The vaccine was created in 2016. Now, Baylor doctors are using that recipe to fight the coronavirus because it's similar to SARS.

"We know that virus is 80% similar to the current SARS-2 virus that causes COVID-19, but at the same time, we're also engineering a potentially new vaccine that will be much more specific against the COVID-19," said Bottazzi.

Starting with the SARS vaccine is a huge help, especially since it takes years to develop a vaccine.

"All of that is pretty much saving three to four years of work that we are now starting to do with the new COVID candidate," explained Bottazzi.

It will be about a year and a half before the vaccine reaches the public, but doctors and researchers are already far ahead.

Researchers are also working on another vaccine from scratch and that will take several years.

"We could potentially accelerate the development so that we could also bring it to the point where the vaccine would be manufactured and then at the same time folded into any clinical development that already maybe on going," said Bottazzi.

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