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Fiocruz signs agreement to develop COVID-19 vaccine in Ceará


Duque Estrada, Camile (Fiocruz News Agency) and Alves, Fernanda (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz)


Fiocruz, the State Government of Ceará and the State University of Ceará (UECE, acronym in Portuguese) sealed, this Thursday (8/5), a cooperation agreement for the development and production of the HH-120-Defenser vaccine against COVID-19, the elaboration of research projects and technological development. The agreement, signed by the Fiocruz president, Nísia Trindade Lima, and the Ceará governor, Camilo Santana, expands the Fiocruz partnership with the Ceará state in the research and science areas for the search of solutions in the health field.

Photo: Peter Ilicciev

UECE's Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Biology (LBBM, acronym in Portuguese) is responsible for developing the HH-120-Defenser vaccine. The cooperation with Fiocruz aims to make adjustments requested by the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA, acronym in Portuguese) in the animal testing phase, reviewing and expanding results. After this step, researchers can submit documentation and request authorization for human trials.

The study with the immunizer began in April 2020, taking as a starting point the already existing knowledge about the attenuated avian coronavirus, similar to Sars-CoV-2, which has been used for a long time and has no potential aggression in humans. In the study preclinical phase (Phase 1), the HH-120-Defenser vaccine achieved "promising results" in mouse tests, with more than 90 percent proven protection.

"Today we celebrate National Health Day [8/5] and Oswaldo Cruz's birthday. There couldn't be a more special day to seal this very important cooperation for the Ceará state and also for our country. We are facing an agreement that demonstrates the science and technology role relevance as essential pillars of health and development factors, for our country autonomy and sovereignty, which are our cooperation basis", stated Nísia Trindade Lima.

In an official visit to Fiocruz, the Ceará State Government entourage accompanied the Foundation president during the solemnity. The following were present, the secretary of State for Science, Technology, and Higher Education of Ceará, Inácio Francisco de Assis Nunes Arruda; the rector of the State University of Ceará, Hildebrando dos Santos Soares; and the professor of the nutrition course and coordinator of the Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Laboratory at UECE, Maria Izabel Guedes. The Ceará vice-governor, Izolda Cela, the Fiocruz Ceará general coordinator, Carlile de Lavor, and the Ceará health secretary, Carlos Roberto Sobrinho, participated remotely.

Photo: Peter Ilicciev

During the ceremony, Fiocruz's actions against the pandemic, the Foundation's role in the cooperation with Ceará's Science and Technology Secretary, the advances in vaccine production, and the merit of Ceará State University in the vaccine production process were remembered. The Ceará governor emphasized the importance of both the cooperation term and the investment in science and technology in the state. "Research and science have a great way to overcome this pandemic that the whole world is facing. Fiocruz's great contribution was to set up in Ceará one of the largest COVID-19 testing laboratories, which serves the Northeast and several Brazilian states. With this cooperation protocol, we will also be together in a future partnership program for research, teaching, and technological development projects", he highlighted.

Also participating in the signing ceremony were the Institutional Development and Management at Fiocruz vice-president, Marcio Moreira; the president's chief of staff, Juliano Lima; the coordinator of Strategy 2030, Paulo Gadelha; the Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos) director, Maurício Zuma; the Regional Integration coordinator, Wilson Savino; the advisor to the president, Inês Fernandes; and Congressman Odorico Monteiro.

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