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Can you make COVID Vaccine at home? Scientists are trying it

Image by Ali Raza from Pixabay

The Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative, or RaDVaC, is the group of scientists working on an open source, low tech COVID-19 vaccine that costs just pennies per dose; but it isn’t yet proven to work, and it doesn’t have a green light from authorities.

For the millions of people worldwide who do not have access to Covid-19 over-the-counter drugs, a team of Boston local scientists has a possible solution. And it is a real solution, the one you sneeze in the hope of avoiding a deadly virus.

The group is called the Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative, or RaDVaC, and their vaccine is so easy to make that their great scientist, Preston Estep, said we could hit it in my kitchen. So we did.

Disadvantages: The vaccine is not proven effective, and it has no control over it. Nor has it gone through large, long, expensive clinical trials such as those conducted by Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson. The main testing center for the vaccine is the scientists of RaDVaC itself and other colleagues such as Harvard Church School Harvard, who do not believe this work is appropriate.

What it has is less expensive production, and less technology. Shooting can be done in as little as one dime and it takes less than an hour to mix together in my home - less than the time it takes to make a loaf of bread.

"It's actually easier than most recipes in cookbooks," says Estep, who has written a book on diets that promote longevity.

All building materials - salt solution, small pieces of protein such as coronavirus, and intermediate chemicals including one called chitosan made of shellfish and insect carapace - can be purchased online without special licenses or permissions. And the recipe is open source, which means anyone can use it.

“We want other people to have a design,” Estep said. "So we share the construction and start making a vaccine, and then we start testing ourselves."
The process

In both rich and poor countries, there is still not enough Covid vaccine to circulate. Jutta Paulus, a member of the Green Party of the European Parliament from Germany, said he had spoken to European Union regulators, the health department and the World Health Organization about supporting and testing the RaDVac vaccine. Without success, a qualified pharmacist will turn to non-governmental organizations and institutions.

"I would have taken this experimental vaccine," said Paulus, who had never received any vaccine himself. "My belief is that the risk is low, and I wouldn't expect a lot of negative reactions, but it should be investigated."

A cheap, easy-to-produce vaccine could be very important when the next epidemic arrives, says Paulus. And that is when, as humans continue to come into contact with new germs, they can be dangerously spread into the animal kingdom.

Here's how a vaccine should work: A vaccine is actually a combination of the coronavirus protein components the human immune system sees. RadVaC takes those pieces, called peptides, and uses chitosan to synthesize nanoparticles of the same size as bacteria.

Nanoparticles have a good charge, and when released, they are attracted to a badly charged nasal membrane. Scientists hope that the particles will be identified by the immune system, which in turn will trigger immune responses and T-cells in response in the event of a real infection. Protecting nasal tissues is important, because this is when it is thought that the virus invades the body. The concept has been shown to work in animal testing, Estep said.

Because the vaccine is easy to make, and it is easy to change. RaDVaC is already in its 10th version, which includes copies of viral components not included in commercial vaccines. Some parts are designed to protect the new variety that has emerged in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Major vaccine makers are just beginning to explore the strains aimed at these changes in humans.

“We have the first vaccine that addresses those types of anxiety,” Estep said. "Because we are not restricted by all these clinical trials and control fabrics, we can start making these designs and test them as soon as possible."
The visitor

Estep came to my door on Wednesday afternoon in April with nothing but a cardboard box and a mini-cooler. Inside the box was a magnetic shock absorber, a beaker, a plumbing machine and a sterilization agent. The cooler contained peptides and chitosan.

Putting his hands dipped in glove with isopropyl alcohol in all directions, Estep showed me how to mix peptides and chitosan slowly to form nanoparticles, invisible to the naked eye. We let it sit for a few minutes, and then he put the solution in his nose because he said it was ten o'clock. The side effects are small, he said.

"There are usually nasal congestion, but that will end soon," he said.

The opt-out list on RaDVaC's website is quite long. The team does not guarantee that the vaccine works, and that their efforts are not medical advice. It does not supply ingredients or production equipment. I did not take the Estep vaccine, as it could lead to legal problems for the group to give the vaccine directly to anyone.

However, RaDVaC continues to deliver its very simple vaccine. Negotiations are underway with the government to introduce challenging tests, which may include deliberately trying to infect and vaccinated volunteers with SARS-CoV-2. Courses have some risks but are an effective way to determine if a solution works at a lower cost.

"We have made it a priority since everything is free and open source," he said. “Many developing economies ended up on the waiting list for vaccines. Worried, they have no choice right now. What these governments are beginning to realize is that if they were in charge of production, they would not have to negotiate these contracts, they would not be the last in line - they would just design and do it. "


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