University of Georgia developing coronavirus vaccine

In a collaborative effort with the Rhode Island Company Epivax, University of Georgia Dr. Ted Ross and his team are trying to craft a COVID-19 vaccine.

“One of the issues we are going to deal with is the fact that the population is completely naïve to this particular virus,” Ross, the University’s Director of the Center of Vaccine and Immunology said.

They started working in the lab earlier this month.

"We’re going to have a part of the virus that is purified separated away from the genome which is the part that causes the virus to replicate and spread - so we use that as the target to stimulate the immune system,” Ross explained.

He told FOX 5’s Brian Hill other researchers hope to have vaccines ready for the public in about a year.

"But I honestly think it’s going to take a concerted effort over a longer period of time,” he said.

Though he’s worked on other vaccines, Ross told us COVID-19 has unique challenges.

"Unlike influenza, most people have pre-existing immunity. With this virus, no one has any pre-existing immunity. So, it may take more than one shot of the vaccine in order to get a protective dose,” Ross described.

Along with creating a vaccine, the team is studying the coronavirus to see if it will return year after year or mutate seasonally like the flu.

"I think the biggest concern we have is the fact that we still don’t know a lot, and that really makes it difficult to make decisions about for public health and for vaccine design,” Ross detailed.

The group will begin testing the vaccine on small animals later this month.

No word yet on when they will begin human case studies.