“Right now, everything we could do with non-clinical trials is done. We have already proven the effectiveness of the vaccine in animals, we have already proven the absence of toxicity. The next step would be to move to clinical trials. What happened with almost all vaccines is that there was strong government support. Despite the contacts that have been made, the interest and some meetings, we are still waiting”, said the executive director of Immunethep, Bruno Santos, to Lusa agency.
According to the person in charge of the biotechnology company based in Cantanhede, in the district of Coimbra, if there were already guarantees of funding from the Government, the company could already be “asking authorization for clinical trials from Infarmed to start” this month. If we don't have the funding, we could lose a few months,” he said, noting that around 20 million euros are needed for the clinical trials phase.
For Bruno Santos, the easiest and fastest way to finance the process would be “the advance purchase of vaccines, as was done in the United States and Germany”. The possibility raised by the Government involved applying for European funds, with the company founded in 2014 applying for a line of financing. “If we got 80 percent financing, we have a number of investors who were interested and we would be able to cover the other 20 percent, but the amount to be supported may not be that”, he noted.
However, the decision deadline for the submitted candidacy only ends 31 December, he explained. “With all the uncertainties we have, which are real, I cannot establish a deadline. I'm dependent on all the variables, but we will lose a few months here in a period that would be critical”, he stressed.
For Bruno Santos, after all the development made by the company, which presented a solution that “is still valid and that can still be useful”, it is “a little frustrating” to be dependent only on the issue of financing. Even at a time when many of the western countries already have a large part of the population vaccinated, the co-founder of Immunthep stresses that the vaccine remains viable. "It has characteristics that make it interesting for developing countries, due to the ease of administration, which does not need to be done by a health professional, does not need a cold chain and as the virus works as a whole, it has a greater coverage of the variants, making it even so useful for Portugal and for developed countries, since the new variants lower the effectiveness of vaccines such as Pfizer or Moderna”, he stressed.