Galway man to forefront in search for COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Gordon Joyce says vaccine could take a year to develop

Galwayman Gordon Joyce, Chief of Structural Biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington DC.

Galwayman Gordon Joyce, Chief of Structural Biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington DC.

Galwayman Gordon Joyce, Chief of Structural Biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington DC, is at the forefront of the work being done across the world to find a vaccine for the Coronavirus.

Dr Joyce was interviewed on Iris Aniar on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta about his work.

Dr. Joyce grew up in Moycullen, where he went to national school, and attended the Bish in Galway for secondary school. His father, Michael Joyce, is from Leitir Mealláin in Connemara. The group he heads up have spent years researching other viruses such as HIV and Ebola, but they are now focused entirely on COVID-19.

“There are one hundred groups across the world working on a vaccine, and some clinical trials have started...We don’t know yet which vaccine might work... we need a vaccine that’s safe and gives immunity.”

'There are 200 people all working on developing the vaccine. We’re talking to health institutes and pharmaceutical companies every day'

“We know the vaccine has worked in animals, but we don’t know yet if it gives immunity in people... There’s a vaccine here in the US and another in China. When the results of the trials come back, we can see then if it’s effective, and go on then to mass production, but we don’t know as yet.”

He said that developing the vaccine would take time, and couldn’t answer on how long it would take.“We’ve been working here for three months on the vaccine. There are groups across the world working on it... A year or more  probably. In normal times, developing a vaccine can take five or ten years... but with COVID-19, I think it will be more rapid.”

Dr Joyce described the huge collective effort, and the collaborative nature of the work. “There are normally ten or twenty people in my group, but now there are two hundred people from the institute all working on developing the vaccine. But we’re not working in isolation. We’re talking to health institutes and pharmaceutical companies every day, sharing information, with phonecalls at 11 pm and 4am sometimes, talking every day...”

 

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