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COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Response Efforts Led by the State of Texas and its Two Flagship Universities: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University

Texas' two flagship universities — The University of Texas at Austin and
Texas A&M University — are among the best in the world at academic and scientific research. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, these two universities have deployed significant resources to help the state monitor and fight this virus. Below is an overview of some of their efforts.

Texas A&M is leading a world-class group of institutions, including the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Harvard’s School of Public Health, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and the Baylor College of Medicine, to repurpose a vaccine (BCG) used to treat bladder cancer that could also be widely available for use against COVID-19 as it has already been proven safe for others to use.

Texas A&M researchers, with support from the National Science Foundation, are seeking to develop a smart ventilation control system to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in public buildings.

Texas A&M researchers are developing a device that can be used to rapidly identify antibodies produced by human B cells that can neutralize infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

A Texas A&M chemist was the first to I.D. the drug Remdesivir, now being used in Texas hospitals as the most effective treatment option against COVID-19. The drug has shown promise of speeding up the recovery of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The FDA approved two human clinical trials for an inhaled drug to protect against COVID-19, developed by scientists at Texas A&M and MD Anderson.


UT Austin researchers created the first 3D atomic level map of the virus’s spike protein. This map was widely shared with other scientists and is being used in at least four leading vaccine candidates.

UT Austin was able to create this map quickly because of its scientists’ prior experience with coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, and because of access to CPRIT funded equipment. Because of UT Austin’s ability to recruit top scientists and its access to this technology, a potential vaccine was developed just 66 days after the virus’s genome sequence was published. No other potential vaccine has ever been developed so quickly.

UT Austin researchers have aided in the development of a process for treating critically ill patients by transfusing blood plasma from recovered patients. These processes are enabled by a UT Austin-developed sensitive and quantitative antibody test that allows providers to screen plasma from survivors to choose those with the highest levels of antibodies. The test has also led to a better understanding of the immune responses present in COVID-19 patients.

UT Austin is working to repurpose existing drugs that have already been approved by the FDA to make them more effective and efficient in treating COVID-19.

Researchers at UT Austin are exploring treatments and coatings of PPE — specifically masks and face shields — to enable them to more effectively capture and inactivate the coronavirus.