MILANO (Reuters) - Italian biotech firm Rottapharm Biotech is looking for more investors at home to help fund development of a vaccine against COVID-19 as the country looks to produce domestic supplies of medication to fight the pandemic, its CEO told Reuters.
The comments came after the privately owned company on Wednesday pledged 3 million euros ($3.4 million) towards testing for a vaccine called Covid-eVax that was launched in February by biotech company Takis based in Rome.
“We hope to be able to bring on board other private and institutional investors,” Lucio Rovati, CEO at Rottapharm Biotech, said in an interview on Wednesday.
“It is essential that our country is also directly involved in the development of a vaccine resulting from Italian research.”
The cash for Takis, which was founded by a group of biologists and researchers at the R&D arm of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co, will go towards producing doses for the first clinical trials which will start in the autumn, Rovati said. The first results are expected March next year, he said.
At least two other trials are underway by domestic pharmaceutical research companies in Italy, one of the European countries worst hit by the coronavirus.
Countries are looking for ways to shore up supplies of potential vaccines as drugmakers rush to develop a treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus, which has infected more than 6.53 million people and killed over 385,000.
Some European governments are speeding up talks with drugmakers to make advance purchases of vaccines currently under development, following moves from the United States to fund trials and agree supplies of vaccines in advance.
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Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Editing by Josephine Mason and Frances Kerry