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Kiwis join quest to find Covid-19 vaccine

A group of New Zealanders have joined the global search to source a reliable vaccine for Covid-19, which has infected over 5 million and killed over 330,000 people worldwide. 

A file image of a microscope in a laboratory. Source: Pexels

Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation Limited (CVC) aims to be able to test a vaccine on humans using biotechnology developed by Massey University.  

With almost $490,000 in funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the group aims to create and test a vaccine based on biobead display technology. 

A spin-off company from Massey University, Polybatics, launched in 2009 with their "nano sized polymer beads with functional proteins attached" which can be used to produce vaccines. 

It was registered at the end of April, in the middle of Alert Level 4, by four scientists who will spearhead the project - Robert Fledman, Andrew Herbert, Tara Creaven-Capasso and Helen Teale from Life Science New Zealand. 

According to New Zealand Herald, a collection of heavy-hitting Kiwis have invested in the project, with the intention of becoming stakeholders when vaccine is developed.

Douglas Pharmacueticals managing director Jeff Douglas will sit as chair, with former New Zealand Breakers owners Paul and Liz Blackwell, bathroom product developer Mark Kipley and his wife Elizabeth, propery developer Christopher Reeve, as well as Guy and Suzie Haddleton who sold their Adaytum software to IBM. 

In order for a vaccine to get off the ground it would need approval from Medsafe - New Zealand's Medicines and Medical Devices Authority.   

CVC co-founder Dr Feldman told the NZ Herald while the new company would not be the first to launch, the goal was to create a "reliable, all round" vaccine for Covid-19.