Tag Archives: Coronavirus vaccine

A Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine

There are no current vaccines for any coronavirus. I’m not comfortable explaining why that is the case, but I’m usually told that the actual killer coronaviruses (there are not many, most viruses of this kind are not big problems for humans) came and went too fast to “need” a vaccine.

This is not really true, since at least one such virus is endemic to a region, a continuous threat, but found mostly in domestic camels. There was a vaccine developed to address that virus, but testing was never completed, and deployment never happened, so we don’t know if it was really effective.

The question of “can there be a vaccine” and “do we develop an immunity to this virus” are related, and we still see the occasional panicked revelation that maybe humans don’t actually develop an immunity to this virus. Don’t worry, we do. If we didn’t the situation would look very different than it does now.

However, we don’t know everything we need to know about that immunity. We know that for this kind of virus, it is possible that a partial immunity develops in most but not all people, and that some people have a much stronger immune response than others. It is quite possible that we develop an immunity that lasts only a few years (for most people), and it is also possible that repeated exposures and/or vaccinations will build up a longer term immunity. These are all important questions, but they do not raise the possibility that we can’t be or won’t be immune to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19). Rather, they frame the issue of how a vaccine is actually deployed. We may see a world, in two years from now, where a Covid-stick is an annual event, but one that people take more seriously than they currently take the annual flu shot, and quite possibly, one that works better (SARS-CoV-2 and influenza are very different things).

There are several vaccines in development. In my experience tracking disease and epidemiology (I’m an immunologists or an epidemiologists, but both my wife and I play these roles in the classroom and she is actually a fellow in an immunology program for teachers), the assertion that “we’re close to a vaccine” is one of the Great Lies, which are “the check is in the mail” and two other ones.

But, there is hope, and it might be real hope, that there will be a vaccine, and there is even the possibility that it will take less time than the several years. It may even take less than the oft-cited but pretty much made up “18 month” time span.

A few takes current, add to comments your newer information if you have some:

April 14: Microneedle coronavirus vaccine triggers immune response in mice

Researchers led by Drs. Louis Falo, Jr. and Andrea Gambotto from the University of Pittsburgh have been working to develop vaccines for other coronaviruses… They adapted the system they had been developing to produce a candidate MERS vaccine to rapidly produce an experimental vaccine using the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

…a method for delivering their MERS vaccine into mice using a microneedle patch. Such patches resemble a piece of Velcro, with hundreds of tiny microneedles made of sugar. The needles prick just into the skin and quickly dissolve, releasing the vaccine. Since the immune system is highly active in the skin, delivering vaccines this way may produce a more rapid and robust immune response than standard injections under the skin.

When delivered by microneedle patch to mice, three different experimental MERS vaccines induced the production of antibodies against the virus. These responses were stronger than the responses generated by regular injection of one of the vaccines along with a powerful immune stimulant (an adjuvant). Antibody levels continued to increase over time in mice vaccinated by microneedle patch—up to 55 weeks, when the experiments ended….

April 14th: Johnson and Johnson claim a vaccine is imminent

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said on Tuesday it plans to begin imminent production of its trial COVID-19 vaccine on an “at risk” basis, as the coronavirus pandemic infects nearly 2 million people around the world.

Manufacturing “at risk” allows the world’s third largest pharmaceutical company to produce a product before its ultimate design is finalized and released to the public. The company plans to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in the Netherlands, and a facility it is updating in the United States.

“We’re manufacturing at risk to ensure that should the clinical development and the trials be successful, we are in a position to kind of flip the switch and ready to go, to create great access across the globe,” J&J CFO Joe Wolk told Yahoo Finance in an interview.

J&J began developing its vaccine for COVID-19 in early January with its European subsidiary Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. It’s using the same biological platform Janssen uses in developmental vaccines for Ebola, Zika and Influenza.

During J&J’s first quarter earnings call, Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said the company is also negotiating with partners in Europe and Asia to produce the vaccine, and partnerships will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Our goal is to enable the supply of more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine globally,” Stoffels said.

April 14th: Two Pharmaceutical Giants Collaborating To Develop One. GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are joining up …

” in an unprecedented collaboration. It brings together two of the world’s biggest vaccine companies with proven pandemic technologies and significant scale, all with the aim of developing an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine.”

An adjuvanted vaccine is one that includes a compound known as an adjuvant that enhances someone’s immune response to a vaccine. In the partnership, GSK will be providing the adjuvant and Sanofi will provide the specific protein component of the coronavirus that will generate the appropriate antibody response.

“… we’re planning to start trials in the next few months,” Walmsley said. “And if we’re successful, subject to regulatory considerations, we aim to complete the development required to make the vaccine available in the second half of 2021.”

There is an earlier reported vaccine in development at Johns Hopkins.