The Czech government has approved 250 million CZK in spending to develop their own COVID-19 vaccine.
Jan Blatný, Minister of Health, previously said the plan wasn’t worth pursuing in December, claiming that “The Ministry of Health sees no reason for further support.”
Now, against the opinions of some experts, Blatný has decided to give the project his support.
According to Aktualne.cz, 40 million CZK will be spent on paying staff. 30-40 million CZK will be given to the State Institute for Public Health, 40-80 million CZK will go toward establishing a production site, 40-80 million CZK will be the “operating costs,” academic researchers will be entitled to 20 million CZK, and another 20 million CZK will be spent on institutional overhead.
Roman Chlíbek, chairman of the České vakcinologické společnosti (Czech Vaccinology Society), told Aktualne that he believes the plan is completely unnecessary and notes that the type of vaccine (live attenuated vaccine) they want to develop, isn’t at all right for the situation.
“We’ve stated before that we do not consider it necessary to continue conducting research and devoting any more time to it.”
Chlíbek mentions that the vaccines from Pfizer, BioNTech, or Moderna are already effective, and can be easily modified should any mutations show up.
“The RNA-based vaccines can be easily modified and respond to any mutations faster and more efficiently.”
“This is something that doesn’t even need to be discussed anymore. With these types of vaccines, you have to start multiplying the mutated virus first, and it’s a time-consuming process. It will take many many months to develop a vaccine from scratch.”
Libor Grubhoffer, virologist and senior official from the University of South Bohemia says that the plan is an unwise use of resources.
“I consider this project to be naive and a waste of money. It’s an extremely outdated, Eastern-style approach based on misconceptions prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry.”