An Irish scientist in the US is leading a team to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Gordon Joyce, from County Galway, is currently working at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, a US military lab near Washington D.C., to develop a Coronavirus vaccine as the pandemic continues to grip the world.
Joyce has been employed by the US military as head of structural biology in the lab for years to wage war on different viruses that have had harmful impacts on mankind.
In the past, Joyce has worked on viruses like influenza and HIV and the Irish virologist was working on a vaccine for MERS, a different strand of the Coronavirus, until early this year.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, however, Joyce and his team changed tack and they are now working to develop a vaccine that could slow the spread of the virus and ultimately end the pandemic.
Speaking to RTÉ News, Joyce said that his team began working on COVID-19 on January 10, as soon as the virus's first DNA sequence became available.
"We started working straight away. At that stage, we'd heard it was pretty bad in China but we didn't know the full extent," Joyce told RTÉ News.
The Galway-native said that his team is now trialing a number of potential vaccines on animals to see if they generate a positive response.
Joyce said that he was aware of the demand for a COVID-19 vaccine, but he warned about rushing its development and distributing it around the world before it was actually read.
He urged people to think of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine like building a house; the foundations have to be laid before the house is built.
"It's like building a house, you can't put the roof on until you've built the rest of the house. We do design, then we test the proteins. In my lab, we work with proteins."
He said that his team had to make sure that their vaccine was safe first and then make sure that it worked effectively against the Coronavirus.
Joyce echoed many health experts around the world who said that it would take between a year and 18 months to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, he said that he hoped that a drug could be developed in the meantime to prevent people from dying when they contract the virus.
Joyce and his team are not alone in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Research teams all over the world are working to develop an effective vaccine as soon as possible and some claim that they can develop one before the year's end.
A team at Oxford University, fronted by Professor Sarah Gilbert, has already begun human trials of their vaccine and says that it will be ready for mass-distribution in September.
Another team of researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland says that it has a realistic chance of vaccinating the entire Swiss population by October. The scientist leading the research in Switzerland plans to test his vaccine on himself in the coming days.
Billionaire Bill Gates is also funding the development of more than 70 potential Coronavirus vaccines in the United States and around the world.