Denmark is joining the race to develop a COVID vaccine of its own, as the vaccine's manufacturers received a thumbs up to test the first trial group of 42 people.
The Danish vaccine ABNCoV2 was developed by researchers from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen and two vaccine companies. It is part of the EU's joint project Prevent-nCoV, Danish Radio reported.
So far, the vaccine has been tested on mice, rabbits, and monkeys.
The subjects will be vaccinated twice in a month and will be followed up closely to detect any side effects. In the second phase, between 300 and 500 people will be vaccinated. In the third and decisive phase, between 30,000 and 50,000 will receive the Danish vaccine.
The Danish researchers believe that the local vaccine has many perks and can in some ways outperform the established vaccines currently dominating the market.
"We have not only developed a vaccine that is stable, but it is also effective in a way where we expect it to provide protection for a very long time", senior lecturer Adam Sander at the University of Copenhagen and Adaptvac company chief told Danish Radio.
Another advantage of the Danish vaccine compared with, say, Pfizer's or Moderna's shot, is that it can be stored for a long time at regular refrigerator temperatures. This will make the vaccine attractive in parts of the world that are more challenging than Denmark or Europe.
"From a purely logistical point of view, it will be difficult to get vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer widespread in Africa. So it will be a huge advantage for the Danish vaccine", chief physician and researcher of infectious diseases at Aarhus University Carsten Schade Larsen said.
Furthermore, the constant mutations make new vaccines absolutely necessary, the Danish researchers emphasised.
"The coronavirus problem won't stop this summer. It's going to continue. The need for vaccines that are more robust against mutations of the virus and that can provide a broader and longer protection will be high on the agenda", Adam Sander of Adaptvac said.
He is supported by professor of vaccine design Camilla Foged at the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen.
"The Danish vaccine can be useful if there is later a need to 'boost' the immune system with re-vaccination. It may be necessary because we do not know how long today's vaccines will last", Foged said.
Despite the current lack of funding, the Danish researchers hope the vaccine will be ready at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year. By that time, the plan is that all Danes will be fully vaccinated.
So far, 9.2 percent of Danes have received their first shot, and about 3 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Overall, Denmark has seen over 215,000 COVID cases, with over 2,300 fatalities.