With Chicago Medical School suddenly calling off plans to print DNA at COVID Technologies’ facility in Curtis Bay, Maryland is now facing a potentially massive data breach, devastating to hospitals and health providers that operate under a strict antibioterrorism policy.
COVID has been working on manufacturing a product that could kill a large number of blood-borne viruses and bacteria, but has been unable to meet deadlines. By law, any work done on government and commercial tissue will be confidential. To add to the problems, the manufacturing contract for COVID’s COV’Nose vaccine that was due to expire on February 28th has been extended to a March 30th deadline, while the company has been unable to achieve the critical advance in production, according to according to company and government officials.
Though COVID was presented with documents that stopped its contract with the military earlier this year, it has continued developing and advancing the vaccine program, according to a spokesperson for the company.
Having no contract to maintain and be the sole company to manufacture the vaccine is a potential setback for the vaccine maker, said Clive James, a microbiologist at Britain’s Imperial College. “That’s usually the biggest problem in biotechnology, the problem of who has rights. But if COVID didn’t have an agreement, that was the most likely issue,” James said. “This was a contract problem, it’s not a real severe problem for COVID to start from scratch.”
Howard D. Chaplin, Director of the Center for Biodefense and Vaccine Research, called the breach an “industrial disaster.” “For somebody to take such a product and violate the law with regard to the confidentiality of the production at the very end of February – forget about the risk to the people who have been authorized to get the vaccine – I think it is frankly a very, very serious situation,” Chaplin said.