Coronavirus News: Tarrytown lab working to create COVID-19 treatment, vaccine

TARRYTOWN, Westchester County (WABC) -- Researchers are working feverishly to find a vaccine that works to combat the coronavirus.

Dozens of labs are rushing to develop a drug, including a lab in Westchester County.

Local scientists are working on two big projects.

They are testing out a drug this week on coronavirus patients in the New York area that already have the virus, hoping to cut down on side effects.

They are also working to develop a vaccine to prevent the virus from spreading.

While the first clinical trials are underway right now in Washington state for a possible vaccination, dozens of local lab researchers in Tarrytown are also racing to find not only a treatment, but a vaccine.

"What type of urgency do you feel right now working on this research?" Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Dan Krauth asked.

"There's a lot of pressure of course right now, there's a lot of, you know, we are trying to do all the things as fast as we can," said Christos Kyratsous, Vice President of research at Regeneron.

This week, Regeneron started testing an already developed drug on patients in New York with COVID-19 to see if it helps cut down on side effects.

Researchers inside the Tarrytown lab are working right now to identify antibodies to create a vaccine.

"So we believe that if you give these antibodies to somebody, that hopefully, you'll be able to prevent them from getting infected," Kyratsous said.

He says they're getting close to combining two separate antibodies that could be put into a single vaccine.

The company claims it could produce hundreds of thousands of doses of the treatment, if approved.

"How close is it to becoming a reality?" Krauth asked.

"We are hoping that we'll be able to start clinical trials early in the summer," Kyratsous said.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, the head of disaster preparedness at Columbia University says the testing and approval process with the federal government can take time.

It could be months, even more than a year, before any vaccine could become a reality.

"We're talking about a year at the very earliest, much more likely 18 months before we see a usable vaccine, for prevention now that could be given to the population at large," Dr. Redlener said.

The company came up with a treatment before for ebola. They say that treatment helped reduce the death rate. It is currently under FDA review.

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