Elia Torroella, Hipra and the hope of the Spanish vaccine against Covid-19

"We started with a small team, of a dozen people, and now we are a few hundred. The success of this project is the success of all," he explains Elia torroella, director of the department of investigation and records of Hipra; the company that, if all goes well, throughout 2022 it will put a new vaccine against Covid-19 in the market. The first of its kind developed in Spain. "In January we will start the last phase of the clinical studies. Between February and March, when we have the safety and efficacy data, we will ask for your authorization. The Hipra vaccine could be approved by the second quarter of 2022. By then, we estimate that already will have produced 600 million doses and we will be prepared to deliver the vaccines as soon as we are requested ", the scientist advances in an interview with El Periódico de Catalunya, newspaper of the same group, Prensa Ibérica, as this newspaper.

Everything points, then, to the hipra vaccine will be one of the protagonists of 2022. Especially now that, after more than a year of research, it is about to become a reality. At the beginning of the year, Torroella announces, the pharmacist will start recruiting the 3,000 volunteers which will be part of the final phase of clinical trials. The study will be carried out in 18 hospitals in Spain And, according to the scientist, it will also be extended to several institutions of Portugal, Italy and Vietnam. In the early stages of clinical trials, the Hipra vaccine was tested in people who had not received any immunizations and had good results. But now, the drug will be tested as a booster dose and, beyond its safety and efficacy, its efficacy against emerging variants such as omicron will also be studied. Expectations are good, explains the scientist.

The puncture will be tested as a booster dose in 3,000 patients and, in parallel, its efficacy against omicron will be studied


"This serum could be used to vaccinate countries where other covid-19 vaccines have not yet arrived. But it also has the perfect profile for used as a booster dose in places like Europe ", says Torroella. For the moment, there is still no purchase agreement closed for Hipra's covid-19 vaccine. According to the company's spokesperson, it is expected that negotiations between the pharmaceutical company and the European Commission will begin in January for agree to a centralized purchase for the Twenty-seven, including Spain. If all goes according to plan, the first batches of this vaccine could be delivered by the middle of the year. The final distribution of this drug, as well as the decision of which groups will receive these punctures, will depend on each country.

"This vaccine has the perfect profile to be used as a booster dose in Europe."


Vaccine on the shoulders of giants

The future of the Hipra vaccine is "encouraging", says Torroella, in the voice of someone who has spent 25 years," a whole life ", dedicated to the development of this type of drugs. This scientist, a pharmacist by training, is one of those in charge of supervising the design of the drugs in Hipra from start to finish. In other words, from the moment the laboratories begin to investigate these drugs, going through the different phases of clinical trials and industrial scaling up to obtaining the approval of the health authorities. It is a scientific, technological and human career that , as Torroella explains, Hipra has been touring for more than 50 years. Although, yes, Until now I had only done it for animal health projects.

"I like to think that everyone the years of experience we had have prepared us to face this challenge"explains the scientist." We already had the knowledge needed to make a vaccine. Just as we had a scientific team used to think about the immune system, in clinical trials and in everything that is needed to carry out a medical product ", he comments. Although to understand the success of this vaccine, Torroella invites us to look beyond the company where the project began." This project has been possible also thanks to public research groups across the country. And to hospitals work, who despite being in a very delicate moment have always taken time to help us with clinical trials, "he says.

"This project has also been possible thanks to public research groups"


The Hipra vaccine, like all great scientific projects, has been built on the shoulders of giants. Thanks to years of knowledge generated and accumulated, but also thanks to the collaboration of multidisciplinary scientific teams. For this reason, Torroella explains, now that we have learned our lesson "we must continue to invest in science, in cultivate the ecosystem of knowledge, facilities and talent that are needed to carry out this type of project. Thus, if in a few years another threat arises we will have the tools ready to work on solutions from minute zero".

Taking Stock of 2021: Glasgow's Missed Opportunity

2021 promised to be a key year for the future of the planet. A turning point against the climate crisis. This was explained just a year ago by Naiara Fernández, 23, and Maria Serra, 19; two young Spanish ecologists from the generation of Greta thunberg. But looking back, 2021 has not delivered good news for the environment. The Glasgow Climate Summit, the encounter that promised to be "the beginning of the end of climate change", was settled with a minimum agreement. Meanwhile, the most important scientific report published to date on the impact of the climate emergency, the IPCC, showed that the effects of this crisis have already reached all corners of the planet and that, in addition, faster and stronger actions are required to slow its advance.


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