As the situation with COVID-19 unfolded, Team Tito’s started thinking about ways we could offer support. We identified important research initiatives in our home state of Texas that could help our community, and hopefully, the world.
Our team learned about a research program right here in Texas with the potential to create a vaccine to protect against the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronaviruses cause a variety of infections that range from mild (the common cold) to severe (SARS, MERS, and COVID-19). After the SARS epidemic of 2003, a research group at the Baylor College of Medicine had, from 2011 to 2016, developed a promising vaccine against SARS that was ready for preclinical trials. There is good evidence that SARS antibodies will likely provide protection against COVID-19. Their vaccine also had the advantage of being created using a technology that has been used widely for many years to rapidly produce low-cost vaccines for a variety of infectious diseases. But their funding was cut, and the research was put on hold. Until now.
Tito’s has donated a grant of $1 million to the Baylor College of Medicine to restart research on this potential vaccine for COVID-19.
Receiving this grant enables Dr. Peter Jay Hotez and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, Dean and Associate Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, and their team to continue working on the first two stages of this vaccine’s development. Once these two initial phases are complete, the team can then move forward with human safety trials and focus on their ultimate goal of not only introducing a COVID-19 vaccine suitable and accessible to the world, but also a vaccine that may fight future coronavirus outbreaks.
Tito’s is funding $400K for the development and production of 500 ventilators for immediate use in Central Texas through a collaboration between The University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering, Dell Medical School, and the Texas Health Catalyst program.
Not only are these ventilators safe, reliable, and deployable anywhere, but they can be produced at one-tenth the cost of a traditional model. These new machines are constructed using inexpensive and widely available parts; think, windshield wiper motors from a car. By designing such accessible ventilators, other facilities across the country can replicate the model as needed.
Tito’s is funding a 2-year grant of $2.5 million to The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. This group, led by UT Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers and her team, is working on pandemic modeling to help map the spread of COVID-19 and improve preparedness for future pandemic threats, both locally and nationally.
This important work is designed to provide information to reduce the burden on the healthcare system and improve the well-being of the population, as well as inform community efforts to help reintroduce people back into their daily lives.
We’ll continue to offer our support, raise glasses from afar, and send love and goodness wherever and whenever we can. In the meantime, we’re proud to help facilitate some of the inspiring and necessary work folks are doing to make such an impactful difference in the lives of so many.