Before the Covid-19 Vaccine, This.

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Antibodies may precede vaccines in fighting Covid-19. Antibody treatments involve producing antibodies against a disease, either by harvesting them from previously infected individuals or, better, making them using some sort of scientific magic (aka technology that is hard to explain). An antibody treatment can fight an existing virus, and avoid infection short term. Eventually the antibodies go away, so this does not confer immediate immunity.

This is not an uncommon situations. Lots of diseases appeared out of nowhere, and were initially treated this way until other longer term solutions could be developed. But many of those diseases were rare to begin with and remained rare, so the antibody treatment was not scaled up. Just read all those books and stories about “emerging diseases” from back in the “Hot Zone” literature days and you’ll see these stories played out.

Anyway, here is what some experts say quoted in a recent Science coverage by Jon Cohen:

“If you were going to put your money down, you would bet that you get the answer with the monoclonal before you get the answer with a vaccine,” says Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).


“Antibodies have the potential to be an important bridge until the vaccine is available,” says Ajay Nirula, a vice president at Eli Lilly, one of several large companies investing in them. Likely to be more effective than remdesivir and dexamethasone, the repurposed drugs shown to help against COVID-19, antibodies could protect the highest risk health care workers from becoming infected while also lessening the severity of the disease in hospitalized patients. But producing monoclonals involves using bioreactors to grow lines of B cells that make the proteins, raising concerns they could be scarce and expensive. On 15 July, Lilly, AbCellera, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, and Amgen jointly asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) whether they could share information about manufacturing their monoclonals without violating antitrust laws “to expand and expedite production.”

Antibody expert Amy Jenkins (Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) suggests a N ovember-December time line for seeing this technology in the field is not unrealistic.

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25 thoughts on “Before the Covid-19 Vaccine, This.

    1. Are you implying that injecting someone with antibodies to a disease causes that person’s immune system to start creating its own identical antibodies? That would be the only way the solution would be permanent and I don’t believe the immune system does that.

  1. On his show on MSNBC last night, Lawrence O’Donnell told of an African slave in what is now the U. S. who used an inoculation of some sort in the 1700s for treating smallpox that he had learned about in West Africa before he had been enslaved.

    Anyone else see that show and remember more of the story than my old brain did?

    1. In a surprise to me, there is a Wikipedia article on the topic of my very recent comment:

      Onesimus (late 1600s–1700s) was an African-born man who helped mitigate the impact of a smallpox outbreak in Boston. Enslaved and given to Puritan minister Cotton Mather beginning in 1706, he introduced Mather to the principle and procedure of inoculation.

      Onesimus (Bostonian) – Wikipedia

  2. I did and looked up the history of the incident.

    Onesimus (late 1600s–1700s was an African-born man who helped mitigate the impact of a smallpox outbreak in Boston. Enslaved and given to Puritan minister Cotton Mather beginning in 1706, he introduced Mather to the principle and procedure of inoculation. After a smallpox outbreak began in Boston in 1721, Mather used this knowledge to advocate for inoculation in the population, a practice which eventually spread to other colonies. In a 2016 Boston Magazine survey, Onesimus was declared one of the “Best Bostonians of All Time”.,principle%20and%20procedure%20of%20inoculation.

  3. The article isn’t interesting at all. It’s more right wing garbage about herd immunity. The author cites Sweden but conveniently leaves out Norway and Finland where infection rates are still very, very low (lower than Sweden, in fact). Both countries initiated lockdowns. The reason that infection rates have gone down in many countries is 100% down to responsible, individual behavior. Social distancing and the prevention of large-scale fatherings of people, especially indoors. Once again, Sweden never adopted a herd immunity approach. The government strongly advised people to work from home and social distancing measures were applied. Scandinavian countries are less crowded anyway, but people there take government advice seriously.

    Herd immunity as a strategy of dealing with the virus IS OUT! A new study in which people who were infected with Covid-19 in March and April reveals that the virus causes damaging legacy effecs to a suite of cardio-vascular areas. The research is eye-opening. The doctors who conducted it interviewed many hundreds of allegedly recovered corona patients only to find that a huge number of them are physiologically damaged, and have trouble performing even menial tasks. The median age of the subjects was 49, so it included patients across a broad age-spectrum. Indeed, based on their findings, the authors argue that the virus is as much of a cardiac disease as a respiratory disease.

    RickA and the right wing idiots who write these opinion pieces appear to think that most people infected by corona simply go through flu-like symptoms for a few weeks, recover, completely and are immune to further infection. This kind of gumbified thinking is prevalent among many simpletons. It is aimed at simplifying abd compartmentaling our understanding of the viral pathology but underneath all of it is a far-right political agenda.

    So don’t be fooled by this herd immunity bullcrap. The more we learn about Covid-19, the more it becomes clear that herd immunity is a morally and medically bankrupt approach to dealing with it.

    1. There is likely a high percentage of the population that is immune due to exposure to similar coronaviruses. It’s possible herd immunity at an infection rate of much lower than 60%. CDC is reporting over 20% for NYC based on serological testing.
      I thought at the time that keeping the subway open was ridiculous, but it may have caused NYC to be close to herd immunity.

  4. Similar coronaviruses? More garbage from MikeN. Do you understand immunity and phylogeny? There is no evidence whatsoever that Covid-19 is sufficiently related to other coronaviruses (cold viruses) to confer immunity against Covid-19. The new virus is in many ways biologically unique. Moreover, coronaviruses are constantly evolving and mutating into new strains. This is why people frequently get new colds. Indeed, using your logic, virtually everyone who has ever had a cold virus should have some immunity against Covid-19 (meaning 99.9% of the population). This is absurd. To suggest that these infections somehow confer immunity against Covid-19 is beyond parody.

    You are on a roll today MikeN with stupid posts. I have no idea what you ate for dinner but it has addled your thinking more than usual.

    1. Only about 20% of colds are caused by coronavirus. There is evidence of immunity coming from exposure to certain other coronaviruses. I’ll try to find the research links.

      JeffH, I’m getting the feeling that you are so invested in doom and gloom that you would be upset if the virus went away.

  5. MikeN, I am a scientist. You aren’t, that is evident. I deal in empirical facts. You are driven by a right wing political ideology, supporting a vile POTUS whose policies are greatly harming the environment and humanity.

    Globally, mankind is light years away from herd immunity with Covid-19. Just yesterday a British medical study said that Sweden is also miles away from herd immunity. Go ahead. Try and find your links. This virus is unique in many respects. People like you and RickA bang on endlessly about herd immunity because the political right wants the neoliberal corporate system running like it did before. You don’t care about human welfare or the implications for those who have to endure the trappings of this vile, unequal system. Moreover, it is now proven that many people who have survived Covid-19 infection suffer significant cardio-vascular damage. These results alone rule out deliberate exposure of large numbers of people to Covid-19 as a strategy to deal with it.

    You can deal in pseudo-scientific fantasies all you like. I prefer sound science with humanity.

    1. ” I’m getting the feeling that you are so invested in doom and gloom that you would be upset if the virus went away.”

      That is the boldest defense of you’ve made for your own ignorance you’ve made to date.

    2. MikeN isn’t being original here. Not long ago the same kind of flawed argument was used by the Impeached President who accused the Democrats of “wanting” the infection and death toll to go higher so that they could use it against him.

      As his niece and dozens of other relevant professionals have concluded about Trump, everything is considered with regard to him personally. The modern Trumpist Republicans show this same fixation; they just can’t think of any other reason for pointing out a problem involving them than to do damage to them. In their view no one really cares about the common good or the future.

      There is also a good deal of projection in the accusations of Trump and other modern Republicans. Notice, for example:
      1) How Trump called upon the specter of cheating by Democrats in mail-in voting during the coming election more or less coincident with the Congress being briefed on the ongoing threat of Russian intervention in the 2020 election.
      2) And then it came to light that the Post Office was being slowed down by a flurry of actions by the new Postmaster General (nee Trump backer with no post office experience).

      The P. G. denies that this is happening or will happen but considering that the reason for modifying working hours and eliminating letter sorting machines was supposedly the lower volume of letter traffic during the pandemic. Logically, that adjustment should make it more difficult to deal with a relatively large increase in letter volume during the coming election period. Yet the P.G. promises no problem and refuses to put the letter sorting machines back (or put back the street-sited and other drop-off boxes that were also removed.)

      Well, I’m not a farmer but I recognize bull manure when I encounter it.

  6. Tyvor, Trump and his goon squad in the Republican Party are kleptofaciscists. I have never in my life witnessed such a charade involving a POTUS and the personality cult that surrounds him. Trump is of course playing his base as suckers, because behind the scenes he and the Republicans are looting the Treasury and pushing policies thar only benefit the ruling elite. The Republican Party is filled with crooks, conmen and hucksters, but they use slick PR to hide their true intentions. What is clear is that they hold democracy and the general public in complete and utter contempt, and will do literally anything, and I mean ANYTHING in capital letters, to cling onto power. Trump and his sordid family are all crooks, and realize that defeat in November will bring their power charade crashing down around them. They belong in jail, all of them. Calling them scum is being far too kind. They lack empathy for anything or anyone but themselves and those around them. The only reason the narcissist-in-chief retains 40% support is his uncanny ability to push the right buttons while lying with every breath. It is, as I said, PR of the slickest kind. Given his rank invompetence, his acceleration of the redistribution of wealth to the monied class, his utter disregard for the poor, minorities or the environment, that he has ANY support aside from the wealthiest Americans is something of a miracle. What is more astounding is that his base consists of the people whose policies he and his Party are harming the most. The working class is being completely shafted by Trump and the Republicans. Yet these are the people who show up in droves at his rallies in their MAGA hats and who troll the internet in large numbers. It truly boggles the mind. Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays would be delighted to see how propaganda has enabled Trump to ‘manufacture the consent’ among many of the general population for his right wing, wealth redistributing austerity programs.

  7. This Post Office story makes no sense. Total volume is about 300 million pieces of mail spread over many days. Not exactly a burden. They don’t need extra money for elections. If anything they could get less money, since now states and cities are paying for hundreds of millions of letters, but again it’s relatively small amount.

    This is just the union workers complaining about reforms that have been going on for a long time. I heard the complaints about how the Post Office is being required to fund its retiree health care 15 years ago. Not the Postmaster General is cutting overtime by redoing the schedules. Union responds by snapping some pictures of mailboxes collected for refurbishing, makes up a story, and people fall for it.

    1. mikeN, how did you become such a fountain of bullshit and falsehoods? We had video of machinery being taken out of facilities here in West Michigan the same day the grifter trump put in charge of the the service testified that he had stopped the practice. There were emails published detailing and end to overtime across the board.

      your ‘refurbishing’ bit is pure fantasy. A typical person, after writing the lies you do, would be asked “have you no shame?” Your history shows the answer to that question.

    2. mikeN, how did you become such a fountain of bullshit and falsehoods? We had video of machinery being taken out of facilities here in West Michigan the same day the grifter trump put in charge of the the service testified that he had stopped the practice. There were emails published detailing and end to overtime across the board.

      your ‘refurbishing’ bit is pure fantasy. A typical person, after writing the lies you do, would be asked “have you no shame?” Your history shows the answer to that question.

    3. Dean, there was a picture that was posted on Twitter, of post office boxes piled up, retweeted all over. The photographer who took the picture admonished the media for doing this, as actual journalism would have revealed this was a refurbishing company.
      Actual boxes being removed does happen and happened well before Trump.

  8. Fauci 1/28/20: “Even if there is some asymptotic transmission, in all the history of respiratory born viruses of any type, asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks.”

    Was Fauci right about this? If so, then I think people could do with more moderation in their protocols.

  9. MikeN, what is your obsession with trying to find minor flaws in everything Dr. Fauci may or may not have said regarding the coronavirus? You seem preoccupied with him, whereas you never, ever, criticize the malignant, lying, sexist, racist, anti-environmental President. Where are your criticisms of the bullshit blizzard that emanated from Trump over COVID-19? Nobody here is fooled by your phony enquiries. You support a right wing political agenda and you use every means of getting that through on this blog.

    1. You’ll also note that he never references anything later than the early days, before more data came in.

      Of course, he never references trump’s lack of activity, his lies about the virus, lies about “closing china”, having fema steal supplies states had purchased, or any of the other intentional actions trump implemented to hurt people.

    2. JeffH, does this mean you think it is an error? It would not be minor, but it is not clear to me that it is an error. I thought it was at one point, but I am reading conflicting reports.
      I am trying to get people’s opinions on the matter, hopefully something definitive.

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