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Porta a Porta, interview with Piero Di Lorenzo Rai 1 – 14th April

”ENGLISH

BRUNO VESPA

We have with us the CEO of Advent IRBM. There has been a lot a noise about this company that is based near Rome, in Pomezia, because together with a prestigious institute in Oxford, it has developed a vaccine. It is a vaccine that will be tried out on humans in the UK from the end of April. Good evening Mr. Di Lorenzo. How did this idea come about? Was it first developed in Pomezia or in Oxford?

DI LORENZO

Good evening.

BRUNO VESPA

You have 200 researchers, how do they coordinate with their colleagues in England?

DI LORENZO

We’ve been working with Oxford for 10 years: the collaboration between us is well-established and in this ground-breaking area they have synthesized the gene of the Spike protein. Once the Chinese had published the sequencing of the virus, on January 10th, within a few days Oxford sent us the synthesized gene of the Spike protein so that we could characterize the adenovirus, i.e. the vehicle within which the disabled gene of the protein has to be placed. It is this protein, the small red corona of the virus, that causes contagion, enabling it to enter the body and create the conditions for the body to react by creating antibodies. Obviously, the original idea for the study came from Oxford, then we were called on to collaborate on this project, as we have done with many other projects. Our contribution is, as I always put it, as if we had been called upon by Ferrari to supply tires for the Grand Prix: so we are grateful for this recognition from what, for us, is the biggest institute in the world for the study of vaccines.

BRUNO VESPA

So you are providing the tires, and you will be sending them to Ferrari within a couple of weeks. Will human trials begin right away?

DI LORENZO

Yes, by the end of April we’ll be sending the first batch we’ve produced in our laboratories in Pomezia. They, in the meantime, are selecting 550 healthy volunteers to take part in the tests … I think that by May they will have selected the 500 volunteers and will vaccinate them right away. We anticipate being able to understand the actual effectiveness of the vaccine by the autumn.

BRUNO VESPA

So will we also have some doses to start with, if all goes to plan, to vaccinate health care and law enforcement workers, basically those who are a bit more exposed?

DI LORENZO

So the vaccine is being tested in England because, as I was saying, it was there that Sarah Gilbert, the internationally-recognized, highly-esteemed giant in the world of vaccines, first set up this research. Those tests will be carried out in England, once the scientific tests have provided a response, according to the official standards of approval of the British regulatory authority. During this time the batches that have been produced by then will be made available to qualifying hospitals, in other words they will be freely distributed during that period as another test.

BRUNO VESPA

Sorry, but does that include Italy too?

DI LORENZO

This whole project was set up with financing from the CEPI, which is a supranational body financed by the British and Norwegian governments, so, as we know, the ones who pay are entitled to take precedence. But I haven’t lost hope of Italy being involved. I have spoken about it to the relevant Ministers, with Minister Manfredi and Minister Speranza, they are also very committed to doing whatever it takes to involve Italy in this distribution.

BRUNO VESPA

Well thank you Mr. Di Lorenzo, well done and good luck. Let’s hope we can get some too. In the meantime, let’s hope it actually works and we can benefit from it.

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