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Front-Line Diaries: Dr. Taha Azad in a race to find a vaccine for COVID-19
OTTAWA -- He is an award-winning scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, in a battle against time to come up a solution to Covid-19. But he's not alone. Dr. Taha Azad and his team at the Institute have channeled the expertise that went into making cancer-fighting viruses into efforts to develop a possible vaccine.
"We are trying different combinations to find the best combination to boost immune system against the virus."
And certainly their lab is one of many here in Canada, and many more around the world in the chase for a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 or a drug to treat it. Given the global race, Dr. Azad and his team are under tremendous pressure. But Dr. Azad says there is also tremendous collaboration.
"This is the greatest teamwork I have ever seen in my life. They share a lot of data with each other. Most of the people are working 24-7.
He says no one lab is likely to find the solution on its' own. But they are seeing progress.
"We are doing our pre-clinical studies. But this virus is very new and our knowledge about this behavior is very limited. So now we are working very hard. We are doing our best to have the vaccine as soon as possible but at this point it's impossible to make any time when it would be available. We are just doing our best."
Dr. Azad, who recently received a Banting Fellowship and just won the Governor General's Academic Gold Medal for his PhD work, has obvious professional reasons for wanting to find a vaccine. He also has personal ones.
"We are expecting our first baby. I work at the hospital and I am a little bit at higher risk. Sometimes I worry about my wife catching Covid-19 because of me. But at the same time I am so lucky to have her, because she always encourages me. Hopefully we can find something that will help this situation. Not only for us. But also for future generations."