John R. Price is leading the team of cutting-edge scientists at the genetic engineering company who have finished developing a potential vaccine to tackle COVID-19. The company, based in Texas and Colorado, finished their vaccine in late February, and now plan to move to the next stage of testing. If they are successful, Greffex Inc would be the first to develop a vaccine for the deadly disease – to possibly stop the outbreak in its tracks.
However, the company’s CEO has expressed concerns about how COVID-19 is spreading throughout the globe.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he relayed his biggest fear surrounding the outbreak, and how he wishes to combat it with his company’s vaccine.
Mr Price said: “My biggest fear is Africa.
“The problem is, some African nations don’t have healthcare. Not that they don’t have good or bad healthcare – they don’t have healthcare.
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“So much of what is going to happen is not just if it becomes a pandemic, but a killing pandemic, is going to absolutely destroy Africa.
“And when it does, we are all going to have to work hard to rebuild it and offer support.
“We are going to be shifting so many resources to Africa, and we have no plan!”
Mr Price discussed specific African nations including Kenya and Nigeria which hold important global resources, and the population density of the countries.
He added: “We are really not focusing on what is next and where. Let me be wrong, I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think I am.
“We need to start thinking about where the waves of pandemics are going to go. We need to start thinking about the propinquity, the side to side of people.
“And we don’t get to be myopic. We don’t get to say ‘this is just Africa’, which sadly happens all the time, and we know it.
“That is definitely a problem to keep us awake at night – what are we doing about Africa?”
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Mr Price also discussed his desire to provide the most vulnerable countries with his vaccine once it was fully tested and funded.
He believes by adopting a ‘cheaper, faster and better’ business model, he will be able to get the vaccine into the hands of those who need it most.
Greffex Inc has developed the vaccine candidate through the use of an adenovirus, likened to an emptied vehicle able to transport therapy quickly into the body.
The CEO says he would like to work with countries who have not yet made significant progress in their development cycle so they can use the vaccine to develop biotechnology going forward.
Of Africa’s 54 countries, there are only five which have yet to report a case of the virus – Lesotho, South Sudan, Malawi, Comoros and Sao Tome & Principe – according to Johns Hopkins University.
On the continent, more than 200 deaths have been reported.
But, similar to Mr Price, other global health experts have warned particular attention must be given to the country.
Healthcare systems in some African nations could potentially be overwhelmed by the virus.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation also offered a stark warning.
The Ethiopian WHO chief said: “Africa should wake up.
“My continent should wake up.”
Most African nations have taken stringent steps to stop the spread of coronavirus.
This includes the closure of schools and borders alongside national lockdowns and curfews.
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