Health & Wellbeing

Several COVID-19 vaccines necessary to overcome pandemic, experts say

Several COVID-19 vaccines nece...
SARS-Cov-2 particles colored orange, emerging from cells colored gray
SARS-Cov-2 particles colored orange, emerging from cells colored gray
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SARS-Cov-2 particles colored orange, emerging from cells colored gray

A new article from a quartet of scientific leaders, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is outlining the challenges to overcome in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine over the next one to two years. The scientists suggest it will take not one, but multiple successful vaccines, to get through this pandemic and return to normality.

"We're experiencing a series of unprecedented events with a disease that has spread globally and infected more people in a shorter time than any other infection in modern times," says co-author Larry Corey, a professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "In order to overcome the challenges in front of us, we each need to bring nothing short of our absolute best. The research and development of COVID-19 vaccines will require creativity, cooperation and commitment to save as many lives as possible as soon as we can."

Alongside Fauci and Corey, the article is co-authored by Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and John Mascola, director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center. The article discusses several questions that will need to be resolved before a vaccine can be effectively deployed. Alongside the still unanswered issues surrounding immunity and reinfection, the article raises the controversial topic of human challenge trials.

Human challenge trials are a rarely used vaccine development strategy whereby healthy volunteers are deliberately exposed to an infectious agent. There have been calls for human challenge trials to be deployed in this current context as a way to accelerate the vaccine development process.

The authors of the article express concern over the safety, and utility, of human challenge trials in the context of developing a COVID-19 vaccine. They suggest efficacy in young healthy adults does not necessarily translate to other at-risk demographics and an independent panel of ethicists must evaluate this strategy if it were to be deployed.

Discussing the variety of vaccines currently in the development, the article suggests several different vaccines must be successful in order to effectively meet the world’s needs.

“No single vaccine or vaccine platform alone is likely to meet the global need, and so a strategic approach to the multi-pronged endeavor is absolutely critical,” the authors write in the article.

Professor Kim Mulholland, a vaccine scientist from Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, echoed this need for multiple vaccines in a recent interview with New Atlas. He suggested, as many vaccines in development are based in similar scientific hypotheses, if one is successful then there will be success with others. And if there are several successful vaccines then they could be more swiftly deployed around the entire world.

“If [targeting the spike protein] proves to be an effective strategy then it's more likely than not there will be a string of successful vaccines,” said Professor Mulholland. “And that might be the best outcome. If I was going to bet on something, I would bet on that. There’ll be more than one that will be successful, and they’ll be based on the spike protein.”

The ultimate message of the article is a general call for harmonious global collaboration across vaccine development, manufacture and distribution processes.

“The full development pathway for an effective vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 will require that industry, government, and academia collaborate in unprecedented ways, each adding their individual strengths,” the article states. “Global effort, global cooperation, and transparency are needed to maximize the speed, veracity, and decision-making required to deliver scientific advances to the global population in a timely fashion. Models for all of these programs exist, and rapid implementation of these ideas is essential if we are to succeed in the timelines required to return us to pre–COVID-19 social interactions.”

The full article can be read in the journal Science.

Source: NIH/Fred Hutch

8 comments
EUbrainwashing
No mater what a plethora of experts report about the seriousness of CV19 in comparison 'to other seasonal Corona Viruses and Flu and the logical and desirable ready achievement of a natural population wide immunity, the lockstep march towards quarantining and healthy population and a vaccine solution remains unshakeably 'the final solution' (as Bill Gates termed it in a recent interview). Why is that?
nick101
I suspect that when they do come up with vaccines, they will be of the hit-and-miss variety like current flu vaccines. It'll just join the group of viruses that forever lurk in the background, waiting to pounce.
paul314
If a vaccine is found that only works for certain subgroups, the ongoing lack of effective treatment options is going to pose some serious ethical dilemmas.
zr2s10
There needs to be more focus on treating people who get it, having a standard pathway to deal with it when people get it. We can't be cowering in our homes for several years. This mostly effects the elderly, and no, that's not a "Oh well, they're old anyway, so what" argument. It's a "We should be properly protecting them." argument. Unlike in PA, were a solid 2/3+ of deaths were in nursing homes. And the secretary of health forced nursing homes to take back residents who were confirmed positive! Most hospitals are sitting half empty, why weren't they there instead?? Especially when she took her own mother out of a home and into isolated care. Do as I say, not as I do.
guzmanchinky
It's 2020. We should have a universal vaccine for flu and the common cold by now.
paul314
@zr2s10 the disease is much more likely to kill the elderly, but there's a substantial level of hospitalization (initially 20-30% for confirmed cases, less than that now) and longterm damage for younger adults. We need treatment, and we also need pervasive rapid testing and contact tracing. Because we don't have enough hospital beds for several percent of the population. And without the hospital capacity those severe-but-not fatal cases can easily turn into deaths.
GordonHoffman
This Caronavirus is similar to the common cold: there has been research done for many years to get rid of that illness - they haven't succeeded and many people die from that each year. Severe inflammation is causing many deaths, so getting the body to not overreact will help some. I would welcome a vaccine that just gave the body a heads up to at least reduce the complications and give one a fighting chance - maybe some illness without death.
Karmudjun
I am not certain of some facts presented in the comments section, so I'll share what we physicians in the USA now understand. 1) SARS-CoV2 can have a minor or a major inflammatory component, research into different HLA variant's susceptibility to the inflammatory component is ongoing. Just like we have learned with cancer - your genetics matter in the therapies; 2) Some 80% of the positive patients have mild to no symptoms in the wild - so no one in the field is making absolute statements regarding the death rates or recovery rates in the full population; 3) Paul314, we already are facing those ethical dilemmas - it isn't fun or boast-worthy, it is just a fact and we hope that if we cannot develop a "magic bullet" vaccine - we will take a limited vaccine that leaves us with a smaller subgroup of the population to focus our 'serious ethical dilemmas' that are ongoing and enormous to date; 4) A universal vaccine is an ideal - just the same as antibiotics will cure you and have no repercussions on human lives and bacterial strains - If you can vaccinate out a certain virus or illness, you leave people who may have been "culled" from the gene pool by illness & natural selection to pass on genes which may - in the future - leave their offspring more susceptible to new and novel illnesses. This is an ethical dilemma that we have been facing for half a century as heart surgery in infants have allowed generations to live with congenital defects - correctable by current surgical techniques. Will that lead to more congenital defects? More susceptibility to viral and bacterial cardiomyopathies and whatnot? I wish I knew.

Lastly, anything that reduces the severity of an illness or the pandemic nature of a novel illness is a great breakthrough in the immediate stage - what it does to the population over time is another issue. We haven't developed the 'common cold' vaccine because there are so many infective viruses that cause the cold. The same for the influenza, the variation in the influenza virus and the ability of the virus to mutate significantly in a years time means we can't easily develop a "universal" influenza vaccine. I dislike being sick, I don't like my allergies and really do dislike my occasional asthma induced bronchitis that develops into a walking pneumonia. So my view on vaccines is LET ME TRIAL ONE! I'm not afraid of side effects when I know the effects of the illness. I think we should limit the spread of any major illness and I am willing to "march lockstep" with the greater society towards a healthier future. Anyone study the history of plagues in the last 2000 years? There were some major population wipe-outs in history! That is why our current medical "final solution" is exactly as Bill Gates termed it - we haven't developed techniques more effective than prevention via behaviors and prevention via vaccines. Until we do, you bet I'll force my family to adhere to the current best practices of 21st century medicine. And I'll pray.