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COVID-19 Vaccine Hunting Goes Hot Globally, Still No Guarantee


WASHINGTON (AP) —Hundreds of people around the world are sleeved all over the world to inject an vaccine that could block COVID-19, and perhaps unrealistic—

Nearly 100 research groups are pursuing or ready to start nearly 12 vaccines in the early stages of human trials. It’s a crowded field, but researchers say it only increases the probability that a few will be able to overcome many remaining obstacles.

“We are not really in competition with each other, we are in competition with the pandemic virus and we need as many players as possible in that race,” said Dr. Andrew Pollard, leader of Oxford University. I will. Vaccine research told Associated Press.

The tricky truth: there is no way to predict if a vaccine will work safely.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US Government’s chief expert, said:

The first cautious test in March, when a small number of volunteers received injections to check for side effects, led to larger studies in China, the United States, and Europe to look for tips that various vaccine candidates really protect. .

Next: See if any of the vaccines work in the real world by testing a large group of people in areas where the virus is widespread — study participants are declining the virus Be careful if you are in a location or where you may be instructed to be at home—and find a quick way to distribute large numbers of successful candidates.

Policy makers are devising plans to try to overcome both obstacles in order to reduce the number of years it normally takes to develop a vaccine. “By the end of January, the vaccine will be available,” Dr. Deborah Barks, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Control Headquarters, said, “it’s possible on paper.

Fauci warned that even if everything was completely successful, speed would be recorded in 12-18 months to develop a vaccine. January marks the first year since the National Institutes of Health began producing its own COVID-19 vaccine. Corporation

Multiple shots work in multiple ways

Depending on the counting method, there are 8 to 11 vaccine candidates in the early stages of testing in China, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. Last week, a collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech launched a study in Germany that simultaneously tested four slightly different shots. More research sites will open in more countries. Between May and July, a smaller number of different vaccines will begin initial testing in humans.

There is no shortage of volunteers.

Anthony Kampisi, 33, of Philadelphia, who received the first test dose of the Inobiopharmaceuticals DNA-based vaccine at the University of Pennsylvania last month, said: “This will allow me to play a small role in the fight against this problem. Can be achieved. ” “I can be a guinea pig.”

The first vaccine candidate works in many ways. That’s important because one type fails and another doesn’t.

Depending on the type of virus, different types of vaccine are more effective than other viruses. But for coronaviruses, there is no blueprint. Animal experiments hinted at safety issues when scientists attempted to vaccinate SARS, a new viral cousin, in 2003, after which SARS disappeared and vaccine funding was depleted. A vaccine against another COVID-19 cousin named MERS has only reached the first-stage safety trials.

“By 20/20, we should have been working harder against the coronavirus vaccine at that time,” said Dr. Sten Bermand, Dean of Public Health at Yale. Now, “If you want quick results, you need to try different strategies.”

Pros and cons

Sinovac and SinoPharm of China are testing an “inactivated” vaccine made by propagating and killing a new coronavirus. The two companies barely reveal any information about the difference between the shots. But this technology is proven. Polioshot and some types of influenza vaccines are inactivated viruses, but they are difficult to scale up to quickly produce millions of doses.

Most other vaccines in the pipeline aim to train the immune system to recognize some of the new coronaviruses. It is mainly a protein with a sharp tip that pierces its outer surface.

One method: Use a harmless virus to carry spike proteins into the body. While easy to create, deciding which virus is the best “carrier” is a key issue. China’s Can Sino Biologics is designed to use the adenovirus that causes the common cold to make a vaccine that doesn’t spread to the body. And if people’s immune system fights the cold virus before the vaccine works, the Oxford team at Pollard instead chose the adenovirus, which usually infects chimpanzees.

Alternate method: Inject part of the genetic code of the coronavirus. This causes the body itself to produce spike proteins that attack the immune system. This is an unproven new technology, but one that promises faster production. The vaccine created by NIH and Moderna, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and its Pfizer-BioNtech collaboration use a genetic code approach.

There are more ways to do this in the following lines: vaccines made with spiked protein nanoparticles, and even nasal sprays instead of shots.

Prove they are working

Most vaccine studies to date have followed safety and whether the blood of volunteers is immunoreactive. Some companies have quickly surged to large numbers, but there is still concern about whether they can prove the actual protection.

When study participants are trapped in their homes or live in places where the virus has spread rapidly, it’s rare for scientists to get sick to determine whether a vaccine or social distance protected them. There is none. For example, an Oxford study found that about 1,000 people were followed and half were given the actual vaccine. But the team is planning a late-stage study with an additional 5,000 volunteers to get the final answer, knowing they may need to move to another country.

“When you’re chasing a pandemic, what looks like the right place to go today will be the wrong place two weeks from now, and it’s really hard,” Pollard said.

In the United States, some lawmakers have prompted another controversial experiment: a young healthy volunteer who agrees to knowingly infect the new coronavirus to prove if the vaccine protects them. We are looking for However, some healthy adults die of COVID-19. Until so-called doctors better understand why, the so-called “challenge study” creates dangerous propositions with serious ethical problems, Yale Bermand pointed out.

The World Health Organization last week sought to become a test site for an international project that speeds up timelines by approving rolling vaccines for promising vaccine candidates for further research where COVID-19 is still prevalent. I asked you to propose.

In the U.S., the Trump administration is planning its own project called Operation Warp Speed, which will overlap with studies of “different candidates made differently and acting differently,” Burks said. Told.

If the initial evidence is strong enough and the virus is still widespread, the Food and Drug Administration may even consider urgent use of the vaccine before final test results, the FDA office overseeing the vaccine said. Directing Dr. Peter Marks recently told reporters.

Supply to the world

Whenever the first useful vaccine is identified, it is not enough for everyone. Therefore, more and more vaccine manufacturers say they are already brewing high doses — they waste millions of dollars if they bet on the wrong candidate, but a successful choice It saves months from mass vaccination.

“We now need to start building a new manufacturing facility,” said Charlie Weller, chief of vaccines at Welcome Trust. “And some of these sites need to accept that they will be created for vaccines that will eventually fail.”

It’s not just a bet on shareholders. The US government has already signed a deal with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which totaled about $ 1 billion, including production expansion.

“The first important thing is to make as much as possible,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of Coepition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is funding several COVID-19 vaccine trials around the world. Told.

Even if it works, when policy makers decide who needs the first dose most (probably health care workers and the elderly) until the world, rich countries, and poor countries alike are just as good. Please expect distribution early.

“I’m concerned about what I call vaccine nationalism. It’s the tension between the obligations elected leaders feel to protect the lives of their citizens and the obligation to share fairly and globally. “, Said Mr Hatchet.

And since there are billions who need a dose or perhaps a few, only one winner in this race won’t cut it.

“It’s unlikely that one manufacturer or one candidate vaccine would be able to address and supply a global need,” Pollard said.


The Associated Press Health Science Department receives support From the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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