COVID-19 vaccine

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The only way to definitively eradicate the pandemic is to have a vaccine that can be administered to all inhabitants of the planet... To ensure the availability of the vaccines to all people on the planet almost at the same time, it has to be free from ownership. To do so we intend to make a global pharmaceutical social business operational as soon as possible. ~ Muhammad Yunus

A COVID-19 vaccine is any of several different vaccine technologies intended to provide acquired immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19).

Quotes[edit]

organized chronologically

2020[edit]

January 2020[edit]

February 2020[edit]

  • If everything moves smoothly, it takes 3-6 weeks to get to the point where you can start testing (the vaccine to treat SARS-CoV-2), then you look to see if they can raise an immune response, normally in an animal. You won't start to get human studies until about the beginning of the summer, probably July (2020). But, it's a bit of a moveable feast.

March 2020[edit]

Even before we knew it was a coronavirus, I said it certainly sounds like a coronavirus-SARS type thing. As soon as it was identified, I called a meeting of top-level people and said, 'Let's start working on a vaccine right now.' ~ Anthony Fauci
  • We have people around the world working as fast as they can to try to develop an effective vaccine against this dangerous disease. That is great — except these people are working in competition, not in collaboration. They all want to be the first to develop a patentable vaccine that will allow them to get very rich if it proves successful... the coronavirus should be yet another lesson as to why there is a better alternative to patent monopolies for financing biomedical research.

April 2020[edit]

“If a coronavirus vaccine arrives, can the world make enough?” (4/9/2020)[edit]

Roxanne Khamsi, “If a coronavirus vaccine arrives, can the world make enough?”, Nature, (09 April 2020), 580, pp. 578-580

‘Subunit’ vaccines, which are composed of a SARS-CoV-2 protein, or a key fragment of one, often need an adjuvant — molecules added to boost the immune response. These might require ingredients that could become scarce during a pandemic.
RNA and DNA platforms may involve a simpler process — which is likely to make them easier to scale up.
In a pandemic, the last thing we want is for vaccines to be exclusively accessed by countries that make them and not be universally available.
[T]he production and purification of whole SARS-CoV-2 virus at high concentrations could require facilities with biosafety level 3 certification. These are scarce, Tapia says, and could be why very few companies say they are trying this approach.
  • Resources for coronavirus will also have to be balanced against the need for other vaccines. Manufacturing facilities around the world can churn out hundreds of millions of doses of influenza vaccine each year, and companies are used to stepping up production at times of high demand.
    But if billions of people need a new kind of vaccine for coronavirus, and firms continue making the normal array of shots against influenza, measles, mumps and rubella, and other diseases, there could be a production shortage, says David Heymann, an infectious-disease specialist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who heads a panel that advises the World Health Organization (WHO) on disease emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The WHO says it is also working on a plan to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines. But how that could be enforced in practice isn’t clear. “In a pandemic, the last thing we want is for vaccines to be exclusively accessed by countries that make them and not be universally available,” says Mariana Mazzucato, an economist who heads the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.
    Supply constraints, both physical and political, are a “big worry”, agrees Seth Berkley, who heads GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance — a public–private non-profit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, that aims to increase access to immunizations around the world.
  • If vaccines built from inactivated forms of SARS-CoV-2 prove most effective, it should be easier to estimate what it would take to churn out doses, because this industrial technology has been around since at least the 1950s, says Felipe Tapia, who studies bioprocess engineering at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg, Germany. That said, the production and purification of whole SARS-CoV-2 virus at high concentrations could require facilities with biosafety level 3 certification. These are scarce, Tapia says, and could be why very few companies say they are trying this approach.
    At least a dozen companies are chasing the idea of injecting into the body formulations of RNA or DNA that would provoke our cells into making one of the proteins used by SARS-CoV-2. “RNA and DNA platforms may involve a simpler process — which is likely to make them easier to scale up,” says Charlie Weller, head of the vaccines programme at Wellcome, a London-based biomedical research funder. But no vaccine with this approach has yet been approved for any disease in humans.
  • Other elements in the manufacturing process might create bottlenecks. ‘Subunit’ vaccines, which are composed of a SARS-CoV-2 protein, or a key fragment of one, often need an adjuvant — molecules added to boost the immune response. These might require ingredients that could become scarce during a pandemic, such as specific lipids, says Jaap Venema, chief science officer of US Pharmacopeia (USP), a non-governmental organization in Rockville, Maryland, that helps to set drug-quality standards.
    Another idea to grow vaccines quickly is using plants. Cigarette giant British American Tobacco (BAT) said in April that it aims to grow vaccines (being developed by its subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing) in fast-growing tobacco plants. But Venema says such plant-based vaccine products have extra regulatory hurdles to clear, including complying with rules for genetically modified organisms — which could make it very hard to fast-track the process.
  • But even if lots of vaccine is made, there seems to be no way to force countries to share it. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, Australia was among the first to manufacture a vaccine, but did not immediately export it because it wanted vaccines for its citizens first, says Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland. “Most countries have laws enacted that allow the government to force manufacturers to sell domestically, and I don’t see this changing,” he says.
  • It is possible that by the time a vaccine arrives, much of the world will already have been infected with the new coronavirus. Even in that case, however, many might want shots to boost immunity. And thinking ahead to ensure there’s enough manufacturing capacity for vaccines in any future epidemic is still vital, Yaqub says.
    “The concern for how to manufacture vaccines efficiently, reliably and safely is always going to be there,” he says, “even if we can’t get a coronavirus vaccine or we’ve managed to figure out other ways to deal with coronavirus.”

May 2020[edit]

In case anyone is wondering I strongly support the development and widespread adoption of a covid-19 vaccine and will take it as soon as it is widely available... ~Jimmy Wales
  • The coronavirus pandemic is a clear instance in which the whole world shares a common interest in developing and distributing a vaccine. This should mean that we have open research, where all findings are posted on the web as quickly as possible, so that they can build on them. Once a vaccine is developed we should want it spread throughout the world as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost.
  • Polls show that the American people are extremely worried about contracting the virus. However, the government has a much bigger concern: that if they find a COVID-19 vaccine, China will copy it and distribute it for free. To many, it will not be immediately clear why it would be a problem for a manufacturing superpower, home to 1.4 billion people, to inoculate itself and others. But to the White House, this would be “stealing” a potential American innovation.
  • In the early 1950s, American scientist Jonas Salk pioneered a world-changing vaccine against polio, a deadly disease that tens of thousands of Americans contracted annually. Instead of patenting it and making a fortune, he insisted that his invention belonged to all of humanity. By 1994, polio was eradicated in North America. Yet 70 years later, the logic of capitalism dictates that where... there are enormous profits to be made, and anyone acting outside that system to reproduce a vaccine is not acting responsibly, but “stealing.”
  • As soon as the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was posted online in January, three groups began independently working on adenoviral vector vaccines for COVID-19: CanSino Biologics, the University of Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson. All three teams are chock full of vaccine veterans, and their COVID-19 programs have garnered global attention for their scale and speed.
    Many scientists believe that a COVID-19 vaccine will be needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus and end the pandemic, which has claimed more than 270,000 lives so far. Over the past 4 months, more than 100 groups have joined the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Their efforts cover a spectrum of technologies, including conventional, inactivated viruses and new, unproven technologies like messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.
  • Compared with some of the newer, experimental technologies—such as Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, which was the first to enter human trials in the US—adenoviral vectors are touted as a more tried-and-true approach. J&J calls its adenoviral vector platform a “proven” technology. While adenoviral vectors have been tested in far more people than mRNA vaccines, the technology is used in only one commercial vaccine today: a rabies vaccine used to immunize wild animals. So far, no adenoviral vector vaccines have demonstrated they can prevent disease in humans.
  • And while most vaccine scientists agree that adenoviral vector vaccines are great at spurring T-cell immunity, they disagree on how important that will be for preventing COVID-19. Most research has focused on the immune system’s antibody response to the virus. Adenoviral vector vaccines can induce antibody responses, but they’re usually not as strong as those elicited by more traditional vaccines.
  • In case anyone is wondering I strongly support the development and widespread adoption of a covid-19 vaccine and will take it as soon as it is widely available... I don't think I should be in the first wave to take it as that should be people more vulnerable or more likely to be spreaders... I think that's right. [replying to comment: "it should go to health care workers first"]. I'm not an expert. I just know that I'm healthy and safe at home, so it will be more helpful for others to go first. But I'm eager to take it!

June 2020[edit]

  • Within days of the first confirmed novel coronavirus case in the United States on 20 January, antivaccine activists were already hinting on Twitter that the virus was a scam—part of a plot to profit from an eventual vaccine... Recent polls have found as few as 50% of people in the United States are committed to receiving a vaccine, with another quarter wavering... In France, 26% said they wouldn’t get a coronavirus vaccine... Even before the pandemic, public health agencies around the world were struggling to counter increasingly sophisticated efforts to turn people against vaccines. With vaccination rates against measles and other infectious diseases falling in some locations, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 listed “vaccine hesitancy” as one of 10 major global health threats.
  • The details of the contracts come just days after the Trump administration faced backlash from consumer groups for refusing to require Gilead to charge a reasonable price for its Covid-19 treatment remdesivir. On Monday, as Common Dreams reported, Gilead announced it will charge U.S. hospitals around $3,120 per privately insured patient for a treatment course of remdesivir, which was developed with the help of at least $70.5 million in taxpayer funding. "Allowing Gilead to set the terms during a pandemic represents a colossal failure of leadership by the Trump administration," Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines Program, said in a statement Monday. "The U.S. government has authority and a responsibility to steward the technology it helped develop."
  • Noting that U.S. taxpayers have contributed billions of dollars to help develop a Covid-19 vaccine, the Vermont senator (Bernie Sanders) asked the panel: "Would you agree with me that after that kind of investment we should make sure that every American, every person in this country, can get a vaccine regardless of their income?" National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, each answered in the affirmative.

July 2020[edit]

A cooperative approach to developing vaccines is important because developing vaccines is an inherently risky undertaking... Only about 7 percent of vaccines in the early stages of development are successful, and only 17 percent of those that reach trials on humans end up being successful, according to figures compiled by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
This devastating pandemic, with all its worldwide chaos and horror, has at the same time created a perfect alignment of technology, science, need, and opportunity. The global impact of Covid-19 could change science forever...Let’s Not Waste It, Jane Metcalfe
  • The United States has bought up virtually all stocks of a drug shown to reduce the recovery time of COVID-19 patients... Remdesivir – an anti-viral drug first developed to tackle Ebola – has been approved for use treating coronavirus in the UK and the US after trials suggested it could cut recovery time by around four days... it will charge $2,340 (£1,900) for a typical treatment course for people in the U.S. and other developed countries... Critics in the U.S. attacked the price because taxpayers have funded much of the drug’s development.
  • It does raise two very important questions: what is a fair price for a drug, and what is fair access to a drug, and those are common issues but are particularly important in a global crisis like this. That’s part of the fair access question ― the trial that gave the result that allowed Remdesivir to sell their drug wasn’t just done in the U.S. There were patients participating through other European countries, in the U.K. as well, and internationally ― Mexico and other places... And I wonder how they would feel knowing now that the drug is going to have restricted availability in their own country and would they have volunteered for that trial if they had known that?
  • This vaccine will be needed by 8 billion people. What happens to poor countries who cannot afford to pay the prices that they'll be charging in the rich countries? Happy to sign, pledge your support http://vaccinecommongood.org
  • Today we envision a vaccine within two years, and for frontline health care workers, probably much sooner. It’s remarkable how fast science can happen when everyone is focused on the same problem. This devastating pandemic, with all its worldwide chaos and horror, has at the same time created a perfect alignment of technology, science, need, and opportunity. The global impact of Covid-19 could change science forever.
  • The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is setting off a different kind of competition in Washington: Who will get it first?... Trump administration officials have signaled they will take a “tiered approach” to giving out the vaccine when it is ready and said that, depending on the results of clinical trials, high-risk individuals, people with pre-existing health conditions, and front-line health care workers will be prioritized. After those groups, it’s anyone’s guess. “Will it be people at highest risk? Will it be people who are key to spreading and transmission? Will it be politically effective lobby groups? Will it be people who can pay the most for it?” said Barry Bloom, a research professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

September 2020[edit]

  • The long-term evidence of safety is going to be limited because these vaccines are going to have only 6 months or 5 months of data. So, we’re working super hard on a very active pharmacovigilance system, to make sure that when the vaccines are introduced that we’ll absolutely continue to assess their safety.

October 2020[edit]

  • The virus can actually disrupt the immune system. In August, Shiv Pillai, an immunologist on the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts common hospital, examined tissue taken from useless Covid-19 sufferers. He seemed for constructions known as “germinal centres” within the spleen and lymph nodes. These are the place B-cells go to develop antibodies earlier than they’re saved within the immune system’s reminiscence. Pillai failed to find any, suggesting the sufferers have been unable to generate extremely efficient, long-lasting antibodies that might battle the virus for years.
    He believes the identical drawback might come up in individuals with milder Covid-19 too. “If we want antibodies that will persist for a few years and protect us, it’s not clear that’s going to happen,” he mentioned. The excellent news is {that a} vaccine shouldn’t trigger the identical drawback because the virus. “I don’t see why the vaccines won’t work. They may not be fantastic, but I believe that’s what’s going to protect us,” he mentioned.
  • Immunotherapy is considered as an effective method for the prophylaxis and treatment of various infectious diseases and cancers, which involves the artificial triggering of the immune system to elicit the immune response (Masihi, 2001). A vaccine that elicits the production of S protein neutralizing antibodies in the vaccinated subjects is the primary aim of all the programs for COVID-19 vaccines. Studies have revealed that there is a limited to no cross-neutralization between the sera of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, indicating that recovery from one infection may not shield against the other (Ou et al., 2020). Furthermore, a database of approximately 5500 full-length genomes of SARS-CoV-2 isolated from various countries is now available at NCBI which facilitates delineating the polymorphisms in S protein and other important proteins of the virus concerning vaccine development. The rationale for writing this review is to gather all the information about the COVID-19 vaccine development programs and give the readers and researchers insight into types of vaccines being worked upon and the current status of the clinical trials of these vaccines for ready reference.

“How anti-ageing drugs could boost COVID vaccines in older people” (10/14/2020)[edit]

Cassandra Willyard, “How anti-ageing drugs could boost COVID vaccines in older people”, Nature, (14 October 2020), 586, pp.352-354

“Senescence is really a key factor in ageing,” says Eric Verdin, president and chief executive of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, who is not involved in the fisetin research. No senolytics have currently been approved for clinical treatment, however. “This is one area that has been much less studied,” he says.
Kaeberlein says it’s likely that most companies will pursue anti-ageing drugs as therapies before they test them as prophylactics. “It’s much easier to get a therapy approved in people who are already sick,” he says. He thinks that mTOR inhibitors hold the most promise. “If I had the power to go back to the beginning of this whole COVID pandemic and try one thing, I’d pick mTOR inhibitors — rapamycin specifically,” he says.
  • Scientists have known for decades that ageing immune systems can leave the body prone to infection and weaken their response to vaccines. In June, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that a COVID-19 vaccine would have to protect at least half the vaccinated individuals to be considered effective, but protection in older adults might not even meet that bar. “No vaccine is going to be as effective in the elderly as it is in young people,” says Matt Kaeberlein, a gerontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “That’s an almost certainty.”
  • With about 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently being tested in humans, researchers say it’s not yet clear how they will fare in older adults. In its phase I study of 40 people aged 56 and over, Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reported that its candidate mRNA-1273 elicited similar antibody levels as those elicited in a younger age group1. The Chinese biotech Sinovac in Beijing, which trialled its CoronaVac candidate in a phase I/II study that included 421 adults between 60 and 89 years of age, announced in a press release on 9 September that it seems to work as well in older adults as it does in younger ones. However, a phase I study by international pharma company Pfizer and BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, showed that their vaccine BNT162b2 provokes an immune response that is about half as strong in older adults as it is in younger ones2. The older adults still produced more antibodies in response to the vaccine than people of a similar age who had had COVID-19, but it’s not known how these levels translate into protection from the virus.
  • Carolyn Bramante, an obesity researcher who led the University of Minnesota study, points out that diseases such as diabetes and obesity lead to some of the same immune deficits as occur in older age. She and her colleagues plan to launch a trial of 1,500 people aged 30 and over to determine whether metformin could help stave off SARS-CoV-2 infection or prevent the worst outcomes in people already infected.
    Meanwhile, Jenna Bartley, who studies ageing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, is assessing whether metformin can boost responses to flu vaccine in a small trial of older adults. The idea, based on her work in mice, is that metformin can improve the energy metabolism of the T cells of the immune system, making them better at detecting new threats. Bartley has finished collecting data, but because her lab was shut down owing to COVID-19, she won’t have the results analysed for a few more weeks.
  • Another class of drug, called senolytics, helps to purge the body of cells that have stopped dividing but won’t die. These senescent cells are typically cleared by the immune system, but as the body ages, they begin to accumulate, ramping up inflammation. In August, Kirkland and a team at the Mayo Clinic launched a 70-person trial to test whether a senolytic called fisetin, which is found in strawberries and sold as a health supplement, can curb progression of COVID-19 in adults aged 60 or older. They also plan to test whether fisetin can prevent COVID-19 infection in nursing-home residents.
    “Senescence is really a key factor in ageing,” says Eric Verdin, president and chief executive of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, who is not involved in the fisetin research. No senolytics have currently been approved for clinical treatment, however. “This is one area that has been much less studied,” he says.
  • Kaeberlein says it’s likely that most companies will pursue anti-ageing drugs as therapies before they test them as prophylactics. “It’s much easier to get a therapy approved in people who are already sick,” he says. He thinks that mTOR inhibitors hold the most promise. “If I had the power to go back to the beginning of this whole COVID pandemic and try one thing, I’d pick mTOR inhibitors — rapamycin specifically,” he says. According to his back-of-the-envelope calculations, if rapamycin works in the same way in people as it does in mice, it could reduce COVID-19 mortality by 90%.

“How obesity could create problems for a COVID vaccine”] (10/20/2020)[edit]

Heidi Ledford, “How obesity could create problems for a COVID vaccine” Nature 586, (20 October 2020), 488-489.

When Jesús Ojino Sosa-García looks out over the people being treated for COVID-19 in his hospital’s intensive-care unit, one feature stands out: “Obesity is the most important factor we see,” he says.
Adipose tissue seems to work like a reservoir of the virus. ~ Gianluca Iacobellis
  • When Jesús Ojino Sosa-García looks out over the people being treated for COVID-19 in his hospital’s intensive-care unit, one feature stands out: “Obesity is the most important factor we see,” he says.
    Sosa-García works at Hospital Médica Sur in Mexico City, which has been battling a COVID-19 outbreak for six months. “Every day, we receive patients,” he says. And many of those showing up with severe cases come from Mexico’s growing population of obese individuals — currently 36% of adults. Sosa-García and his colleagues checked the stats early in the pandemic and they were already indicating an imbalance: half of the 32 people admitted to his hospital’s intensive-care unit with severe COVID-19 before 3 May were obese.
    Sosa-García is optimistic that a coronavirus vaccine will arrive soon to dampen the pandemic. But for Mexico and many other countries with a burgeoning population of people with high body mass indices (BMIs), some researchers fear that a vaccine might not be the panacea Sosa-García is hoping for. Obesity correlates with a dulled immune response to COVID-19. And vaccines for a handful of other conditions often don’t work as well in obese people, suggesting that a shot for COVID-19 might not provide as much protection as researchers would like. “We worry about that,” says Donna Ryan, who has studied obesity at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • When Xu submitted her study to an academic journal in March, the editors urged her to alert the World Health Organization about her findings. Since then, studies have poured in from countries around the world reaching the same conclusion: those who are obese are more likely to die from COVID-19 than are those of normal weight, even when factors such as diabetes and hypertension are taken into account.
    There are a slew of possible reasons. People with higher BMIs are more difficult to care for. It can be challenging to put a tube down their airway when hooking them up to a ventilator, for example. They can also have reduced lung capacity.
    Then there are the more-hidden, molecular possibilities. Insulin resistance makes it difficult for the body to respond normally to sugar and can precede diabetes. It is more common in those with high BMIs and could exacerbate the metabolic effects of coronavirus infection. And adipose tissue expresses relatively high levels of the ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to gain entry into cells. “Adipose tissue seems to work like a reservoir of the virus,” says Gianluca Iacobellis, an endocrinologist at the University of Miami in Florida.
  • Obesity can cause chronic, low-grade inflammation, which is thought to contribute to the increased risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. As a result, people who are obese might have higher levels of a variety of immune-regulating proteins, including cytokines. The immune responses unleashed by cytokines can damage healthy tissue in some cases of severe COVID-19, says Milena Sokolowska, who studies immunology and respiratory diseases at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. And the constant state of immune stimulation can, paradoxically, weaken some immune responses, including those launched by T cells, which can directly kill infected cells. “I would say they are more exhausted at the start in their fight with infection,” says Sokolowska.
    Preliminary evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 infections linger for about five days longer in people who are obese than in those who are lean, says endocrinologist Daniel Drucker of the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada. “That would imply that these people are having trouble clearing the infection,” he says. “They may have trouble mounting normal viral defences.”
  • Obesity is also linked to less-diverse populations of microbes in the gut, nose and lung, with altered compositions and metabolic functions compared with those in lean individuals. Gut microbes can influence the immune responses to pathogens — and to vaccines, says Sokolowska. Last year, for example, researchers reported that the changes to the gut microbiome that come with taking antibiotics alter responses to a flu vaccine.
    All this could spell trouble for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, when it arrives, particularly in the growing list of countries with obesity problems. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, about 13% of the world’s adults are obese. Ryan points to studies of vaccines against influenza, hepatitis B and rabies, which have shown reduced responses in those who are obese compared with those who are lean. “With influenza, we’re seeing that vaccination does not work well in those who are obese,” says Xu. “We don’t have the data yet on coronavirus.”

November 2020[edit]

The ultra-low storage conditions are so unprecedented that in order to be successful it has to be a perfectly orchestrated and choreographed dance. ~ Soumi Saha
It’s another good example of how all our rural hospitals are at the end of a supply chain with less leverage to make important purchases. It’s the wild west of the supply chain; that’s not how you fight a pandemic. ~ Tim Size
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine candidate is stable at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which is colder than an Antarctic winter. ~ Theresa Machemer
  • To make their vaccine, Novavax scientists first used a baculovirus to insert the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein into moth cells, which produced the spikes on their cell membranes. Scientists then harvested the spike proteins and mixed them with a synthetic soaplike particle in which the spikes embed. A compound derived from trees serves as an immune-boosting adjuvant.
    As a 34-year-old graduate student at Texas A&M University in 1983, Smith, with colleagues, had developed a system that could produce proteins in big quantities. The researchers started with an insect-infecting virus called a baculovirus, which had the virtue of a roomy genome that can accommodate large chunks of foreign DNA. The researchers inserted a gene for a human immune protein, interferon, into the virus and then used it to infect cells from the caterpillar form of a pest called the fall armyworm moth. The virus transferred the gene to the moth cells, which duly secreted human interferon.
    Back then, edi-tors of major journals had little interest in the discovery and repeatedly rejected Smith’s paper, which found a home in an obscure new journal, Molecular and Cellular Biology. But today the system is widely used in biotechnology. Now, it is at work producing the Novavax vaccine at a plant owned by a contractor in Morrisville, North Carolina, and soon, it’s expected, at other plants owned or contracted by Novavax in Europe, the United States, and Asia.
  • The government of the United Kingdom soon signed up to buy 60 million doses of Novavax’s vac-cine, and the big drugmaker Takeda licensed it to manufacture at scale with funding from the Japanese government. Other scientists noted strong results in a dozen monkeys injected with various doses of Novavax’s vaccine and then infected with live coronavirus. The virus failed entirely to multiply in the animals’ noses and replicated in the lungs of just one monkey that received the lowest dose; that animal shut down the infection after 4 days.
    “It’s the only vaccine I’ve seen out of all the candidates that are further down the pipeline that actually had no viral replication in the nasal swabs of vaccinated an-imals,” says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University. That’s important, she says, because stopping viral replication in the nose can reduce the spread of infection among people who may be unaware they are sick. But she cautions that monkeys are not people. “We can’t really conclude that this vaccine is going to be better in practice until we have some reliable safety and efficacy data in people.”
  • If the CDC was worried about a shortage of ultra-cold freezers, it hasn’t happened yet. One company, Helmer, reached capacity and now can’t deliver new freezers until March but, for the most part, suppliers are delivering ultra-cold freezers in two to six weeks, said Behlim. Much like for vaccines, though, the distribution of ultra-cold freezers isn’t even across the country. One local Wisconsin hospital looked into acquiring freezers, said Size, but was told delivery would take two to three months. Larger hospitals with the budgets for multiple purchases come first, he said.
    “It’s another good example of how all our rural hospitals are at the end of a supply chain with less leverage to make important purchases,” he said. “It’s the wild west of the supply chain; that’s not how you fight a pandemic.”
  • We just announced that mRNA-1273, our COVID-19 vaccine candidate, has met its primary efficacy endpoint in the first interim analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study.
    • Moderna Inc via, tweet published November 16, 2020
  • Oxfam America’s (Abby) Maxman told IPS the exciting news about vaccines is providing hope of getting out of this global nightmare, but the scientific breakthrough is only part of the equation. Equally important, she said, is making sure every single person on this planet can get it as soon as possible. But at the moment, rich countries, including the US, are already hoarding more than half of the vaccines to be developed by the companies with the leading five vaccine candidates. “With only 4% of the world’s population, the US has already reserved almost 50% of the Pfizer’s total expected supply in 2021. That’s why Oxfam is calling for a people’s vaccine: a global public good, freely and fairly available to all, prioritizing those most in need here at home and around the world”. To protect everyone no matter their wealth or nationality, corporations with the leading candidates for an effective COVID-19 vaccine must commit to openly sharing their vaccine technology to enable billions of doses to be made as soon as possible at the lowest possible price, Maxman declared.

December 2020[edit]

Developing the vaccines and getting them licensed is like building base camp at the bottom of Everest. And actually getting to the peak - (that) is the delivery part. ~ Kate O’Brien
With this net-work capacity, whether you live in Chicago, Illinois or Murdo, South Dakota, we're able to ensure time definite deliveries of these shipments and we feel very confident in our capabilities in this regard. This is what our network was built to do. ~ Richard Smith
Once it leaves the deep freezers of Pfizer, it has a limited time before it needs to be in somebody's arm. ~ Hani Mahmassani
  • "The Pfizer vaccine requires us to provide the vaccine at the site where it is delivered," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday. "That will be the case for the first few weeks of this program, which means we need to bring people to the vaccine instead of the vaccine to the people at this point."
  • Mahmassani says the challenge is not just in quickly putting together a global supply chain for billions of vials of vaccines, but what's particularly challenging is that the first vaccine in line for authorization, developed by Pfizer, must be stored and shipped at temperatures of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 Celsius), otherwise it will go bad.
    "So that requires speed in moving but it also requires a sort of minimizing the number of hand-offs because it has a limited shelf-life," Mahmassani says. "Once it leaves the deep freezers of Pfizer, it has a limited time before it needs to be in somebody's arm."
    That means transporting the vaccines "essentially, you know, it has to be seamless. You can't miss a beat. Otherwise you're losing very valuable product," Mahmassani adds.
    And when transporting vaccines hundreds or thousands of miles from coast to coast or overseas, there's one mode of transportation in particular that stands out — air travel.
    "There's no replacing the speed of an airplane," says Chris Busch, managing director of Cargo in the Americas for United Airlines.
  • Dr. Kate O'Brien, Director of WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, compares the monumental task ahead to climbing the world's tallest mountain.
    "Developing the vaccines and getting them licensed is like building base camp at the bottom of Everest," O'Brien said at a recent WHO Q&A session. "And actually getting to the peak - (that) is the delivery part."
    In other words, O'Brien suggests developing COVID-19 vaccines in record time was relatively easy, but when it comes to transporting and distributing those vaccines, "There is going to be a struggle, frankly, in every country, about how to do this quickly."
  • [T]he major players in transporting and distributing vaccines will be companies like UPS and FedEx, especially once the vaccines are on the ground.
    "We have the capability to serve every zip code in the United States of America. We do it every day," FedEx Express executive Richard Smith told senators Thursday in hearing on the logistics of transporting the coronavirus vaccines.
    "With this net-work capacity, whether you live in Chicago, Illinois or Murdo, South Dakota, we're able to ensure time definite deliveries of these shipments and we feel very confident in our capabilities in this regard," Smith said. "This is what our network was built to do."
  • The entire WORLD is being badly hurt by the China Virus, but if you listen to the Fake News Lamestream Media, and Big Tech, you would think that we are the only one. No, but we are the Country that developed vaccines, and years ahead of schedule!
  • Anaphylactic reactions can occur with any vaccine, but are usually extremely rare—about one per 1 million doses. As of 19 December, the United States had seen six cases of anaphylaxis among 272,001 people who received the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent presentation by Thomas Clark of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the United Kingdom has recorded two. Because the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines use a new platform, the reactions call for careful scrutiny, says Elizabeth Phillips, a drug hypersensitivity researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who attended an NIAID meeting on 16 December. “This is new.”
    News reports about the allergic reactions have already created anxiety. “Patients with severe allergies in the US are getting nervous about the possibility that they may not be able to get vaccinated, at least with those two vaccines,” Togias wrote in an invitation to meeting participants. “Allergies in general are so common in the population that this could create a resistance against the vaccines in the population,” adds Janos Szebeni, an immunologist at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, who has long studied hypersensitivity reactions to PEG and who also attended the 16 December gathering.
  • Jonas Salk’s vaccine helped wipe polio from most of the world, something that many people hope will happen with the coronavirus vaccine. However, Salk warns eradicating polio from the United States was a long and difficult journey, and he doesn’t expect eliminating COVID-19 will be any easier.
    “It’s going to be a long road, just even getting enough vaccines out to people around the world ... this virus does not respect borders,” said Salk, a doctor and a part-time professor of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh, where his father developed the polio vaccine. “It travels by airplane everywhere in the world and unless this virus can be contained everywhere, it’s going to continue to spread and be a problem.”

“The lightning-fast quest for COVID vaccines — and what it means for other diseases” (12/18/2020)[edit]

Philip Ball, “The lightning-fast quest for COVID vaccines — and what it means for other diseases”, Nature, (18 December 2020), 589, pp.16-18

It shows how fast vaccine development can proceed when there is a true global emergency and sufficient resources. It has shown that the development process can be accelerated substantially without compromising on safety. ~ Dan Barouch
With large sums given to vaccine firms by public funders and private philanthropists, “they could do preclinical and phase I, II and III trials, as well as manufacturing, in parallel instead of sequentially”, says Rino Rappuoli.
  • When scientists began seeking a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in early 2020, they were careful not to promise quick success. The fastest any vaccine had previously been developed, from viral sampling to approval, was four years, for mumps in the 1960s. To hope for one even by the summer of 2021 seemed highly optimistic.
    But by the start of December, the developers of several vaccines had announced excellent results in large trials, with more showing promise. And on 2 December, a vaccine made by drug giant Pfizer with German biotech firm BioNTech, became the first fully-tested immunization to be approved for emergency use.
    That speed of advance “challenges our whole paradigm of what is possible in vaccine development”, says Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida in Gainesville. It’s tempting to hope that other vaccines might now be made on a comparable timescale. These are sorely needed: diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and pneumonia together kill millions of people a year, and researchers anticipate further lethal pandemics, too.
    The COVID-19 experience will almost certainly change the future of vaccine science, says Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “It shows how fast vaccine development can proceed when there is a true global emergency and sufficient resources,” he says. New ways of making vaccines, such as by using messenger RNA (mRNA), have been validated by the COVID-19 response, he adds. “It has shown that the development process can be accelerated substantially without compromising on safety.”
  • “A lot went into the mRNA platform that we have today,” says immunologist Akiko Iwasaki at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, who has worked on nucleic-acid vaccines — those based on lengths of DNA or RNA — for more than two decades. The basic research on DNA vaccines began at least 25 years ago, and RNA vaccines have benefited from 10–15 years of strong research, she says, some aimed at developing cancer vaccines. The approach has matured just at the right time; five years ago, the RNA technology would not have been ready.
    For instance, researchers at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, knew from their research on MERS and SARS that it was best to tune the RNA sequence to stabilize the resulting spike protein in the form it adopts before it docks with a host cell. “If you can trap it in its original pre-fusion state, it becomes a much better vaccine antigen,” says Barney Graham, deputy director of NIAID’s vaccine research centre. That work gave the NIAID team, which worked with Moderna, a head start once SARS-CoV-2 was sequenced in January. “The fact that people had been paying close attention to coronaviruses really allowed this whole process to accelerate,” says Dean.
  • With large sums given to vaccine firms by public funders and private philanthropists, “they could do preclinical and phase I, II and III trials, as well as manufacturing, in parallel instead of sequentially”, says Rino Rappuoli, chief scientist at GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division in Siena, Italy. This meant that companies could gamble on starting large-scale testing and manufacturing of candidates that might not work out. “It was totally de-risking the entire development process,” says Kampmann.
    The vaccine science would not have produced such fast results without this funding, she says. “It didn’t happen with Ebola, which was devastating communities in Africa [in 2014–16]” — and Ebola vaccines accordingly took longer to develop. The money only materialized this time because all countries, including wealthy ones, faced economic devastation: suggesting that the development of future vaccines, including for existing diseases such as malaria, will not be as speedy. “Unless you put in the money, there’s no way to accelerate,” says Rappuoli.
    Virologist Peter Hotez at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, suggests that large pharmaceutical companies might have been motivated not just by the desire to stop the pandemic, but also by the opportunity for governments to fund their research and development. With public investment of around US$10 billion, the US Operation Warp Speed vaccine programme “represents the largest government stimulus package the pharma companies have ever seen”, says Hotez.
    The impetus didn’t all come from the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic itself. Previous infectious and lethal viruses have motivated the creation of national and global infrastructures that can promote faster vaccine development. The Ebola and Zika outbreaks saw the beginning of better global coordination in how to respond to an infectious-disease crisis, Graham says. “If SARS in 2002 had spread like this, we wouldn’t have had the vaccine technology or the coordinated systems, and we’d have had a much more difficult time,” he says.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic should see some permanent changes in vaccine development. For a start, it might establish the use of mRNA vaccines — which hadn’t previously been approved for general use in people — as a speedy approach for other diseases. “This technology is revolutionizing vaccinology,” says Kampmann. Candidate mRNA vaccines can be chemically synthesized in a few days, in contrast to the more complicated biotechnology involved in producing proteins in cells. “The technology lends itself to the nimble plug-and-play approach that will be required to respond to [future] pandemics,” Kampmann says.
    What’s more, “RNA simplifies the manufacturing a lot,” says Rappuoli. “You can use the same facility to make RNA for different diseases. That decreases the investment required.” Companies should also be ramping up their manufacturing capacities because they still have to make vaccines for measles, polio and other diseases even as they produce COVID-19 immunizations. That could help to meet demand in future.
  • The large clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines, and others in development, should provide data that are more widely useful for understanding immune responses, says Hotez. “Given all the different technologies, and detailed information collected on clinical volunteer demographics, antibody and cellular responses, we might learn as much or more from human vaccine responses this year than in previous decades. Human vaccinology could make a quantum leap.”
    Still, other vaccines can probably only be developed at a comparable speed when infection levels are high — making it possible to run massive trials relatively quickly — and with huge amounts of funding. And other viruses might be harder to target than SARS-CoV-2 turned out to be.
    That’s why we need to know more about all families of viruses, say researchers. There are at least 24 other virus families that can infect humans, says Graham. Rather than waiting to sink resources into fighting the next virus that pops up, money would be better spent now setting up systems to monitor all these viruses and to generate data on prototype infections in each of these families, he says.

2021[edit]

January 2021[edit]

  • The first vaccines for prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States were authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (1) and recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in December 2020. However, demand for COVID-19 vaccines is expected to exceed supply during the first months of the national COVID-19 vaccination program. ACIP advises CDC on population groups and circumstances for vaccine use.† On December 1, ACIP recommended that 1) health care personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccination first, in Phase 1a of the vaccination program (2). On December 20, 2020, ACIP recommended that in Phase 1b, vaccine should be offered to persons aged ≥75 years and frontline essential workers (non-health care workers), and that in Phase 1c, persons aged 65-74 years, persons aged 16-64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not recommended for vaccination in Phase 1b should be offered vaccine. These recommendations for phased allocation provide guidance for federal, state, and local jurisdictions while vaccine supply is limited. In its deliberations, ACIP considered scientific evidence regarding COVID-19 epidemiology, ethical principles, and vaccination program implementation considerations. ACIP's recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine allocation are interim and might be updated based on changes in conditions of FDA Emergency Use Authorization, FDA authorization for new COVID-19 vaccines, changes in vaccine supply, or changes in COVID-19 epidemiology.
  • The coronavirus vaccines do have side effects — but that doesn't mean they're harmful. It actually means they're working. We know from Pfizer's clinical trials that short-term side effects occurred with-in 24 to 48 hours, especially after the second dose. Sixteen percent of people ages 18 to 55 and 11 per-cent of people over 55 reported fevers after the second dose. Even more people reported having fatigue, headaches and joint pain. (The Covid-19 vaccine hasn't yet been approved for children under 16.)
  • I've also heard of concerns that the vaccine may cause cancer in the long term, particularly from anti-vaxxers worried about what other ingredients in the vaccines can do. First, unlike non-mRNA-based vaccines, Covid-19 vaccines don't contain other components. Second, mRNA-based vaccines can't make changes to the human genome and therefore are extremely unlikely to induce new genetic mutations in the cells of the kind that lead to cancer.
  • The study showed that between the fifth day and the 12th day after receiving the first vaccine dose, there were no differences between the vaccinated group and the non-vaccinated group: the rate of positive tests for the SARS-CoV-2 in the two groups was similar. In other words: no difference in infection rates was observed between those who were vaccinated and those who were not vaccinated.
  • Earlier WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "vaccine nationalism" could lead to a "protracted recovery".
    Speaking at the Davos Agenda - a virtual version of the global summit - he said vaccine hoarding would "keep the pandemic burning and... slow global economic recovery", in addition to being a "catastrophic moral failure" that could further widen global inequality.

“Why You Should Still Wear A Mask And Avoid Crowds After Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine” (1/12/2021)[edit]

Joanne Silberner, “Why You Should Still Wear A Mask And Avoid Crowds After Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine”, Shots, NPR, (January 12, 2021)

  • With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in December found that protection doesn't start until 12 days after the first shot and that it reaches 52% effectiveness a few weeks later. A week after the second vaccination, the effectiveness rate hits 95%. In its application for authorization, Moderna reported a protection rate of 51% two weeks after the first immunization and 94% two weeks after the second dose.
    "That's not 100%," says Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and a member of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory board. "That means one out of every 20 people who get this vaccine could still get moderate to severe infection."
  • Before approving the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the FDA asked the vaccine manufacturers only whether their products protect people from COVID-19 symptoms. They didn't ask if the vaccines stop people who've been vaccinated from nevertheless spreading the virus to others. The emergency authorizations by the FDA that have allowed distribution of the two new vaccines cite only their ability to keep you — the person vaccinated — from becoming severely sick with COVID-19.
    In the words of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19."
  • Here's how that might work: Let's say you've been vaccinated and you encounter SARS-CoV-2. You're much less likely to develop symptoms — that's clear. But your immune system may not fight off the virus completely — it might allow some viruses to survive and reproduce and get expelled from your nose or mouth in a breath, cough or sneeze. Remember: No one can be sure yet if this actually happens or if it happens often enough that you'd be emitting enough active virus to sicken someone else.
  • Even though the pre-authorization studies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were as streamlined as possible, they still required quite a lot of work. Each of the 75,000 volunteers had to come into a clinic; get a test for the coronavirus; get either a vaccine or a placebo shot (without knowing which they'd received); return for a second shot; and come back to the clinic for testing anytime in the interim if they showed any symptoms of having caught the virus.
    Adding in even more coronavirus tests along the way to see if the vaccinated volunteers had picked up or were transmitting the virus would have delayed the initial results considerably, Corey says. And in the midst of the pandemic, speed was of the essence.

February 2021[edit]

The core human rights principle is equity and nondiscrimination. There's a huge moral crisis in equity globally because in high income countries like Israel or the United States or the EU countries, we’re likely to get to herd immunity by the end of this year. But for many low-income countries, most people won’t be vaccinated for many years. Do we really want to give priority to people who already have so many privileges? ~ Lawrence Gostin
  • Many inactivated vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are being tested at various clinical stages. Most of these vaccines are formulated with aluminium hydroxide, and one, VLA-2001, has two adjuvants, CpG oligodeoxynucleotides and aluminium hydroxide. Because of the ease of production and scale-up and relatively low cost, inactivated vaccines can capture a sizeable portion of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine landscape. Inactivated vaccines are well established and can provide advantages in a variety of distinct populations, including those with degrees of immune senescence. Given that the risk of more severe COVID-19 increases with age, the clinical evaluation of the responses of older adults to vaccines is essential.
  • Correlates of immune protection have not been established for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to date, posing a foundational constraint to any vaccine development, although many vaccines have been granted emergency use approvals around the globe. Comparisons of various vaccine platforms have been hampered because, until recently, there were no standard pooled convalescent sera from infected individuals to use as a reference standard. Interpretation of immune responses is limited in that no consensus standard methods for measuring neutralising antibody titres are in place, thereby confounding comparisons between age groups and comparisons with different vaccine strategies.
    Immune senescence is complex and there are no validated methods to identify early stages or measures of severity. A correlation between anti-receptor-binding domain IgG and neutralising antibodies has been reported for adults aged 18–59 years, but this relationship might not hold true for older individuals with various stages of immune senescence.
  • 100 million people will soon have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Most recovered individuals have had antibody and T-cell responses against multiple SARS-CoV-2 proteins, but vaccination of these individuals might be necessary to prevent reinfection. Compared with other vaccines targeting only the spike protein, inactivated vaccines could provide an added benefit to these individuals by boosting their T-cell responses against many of the SARS-CoV-2 proteins.
  • Even if the vaccines are less powerful against the variant, they still appear to protect people from the worst outcomes, like hospitalization or death. But the loss in efficacy against the B.1.351 variant in clinical trials suggested to some experts that the immunity the shots confer may not last as long against that form of the coronavirus. Or that the vaccines won’t be as powerful of a drag on transmission, the way scientists hope the shots will be for other versions of the virus.
    More urgently, experts said, the disparate results serve as a warning flag that the world needs to step up its current vaccination cam-paigns and expedite efforts to envision what Covid-19 vaccines 2.0 might look like.
    “It’s a huge relief to know that the vaccines still seem to protect against hospitalization and deaths,” said Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Bern. “The No. 1 thing at the moment is to try and reduce in any way the cost that this virus charges us as it spreads through societies. But it’s def-initely true the loss in efficacy, it raises some worrying questions.”
  • “The core human rights principle is equity and nondiscrimination,” said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University professor and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.
    “There's a huge moral crisis in equity globally because in high income countries like Israel or the United States or the EU countries, we’re likely to get to herd immunity by the end of this year," he said. "But for many low-income countries, most people won’t be vaccinated for many years. Do we really want to give priority to people who already have so many privileges?”

March 2021[edit]

We should oppose authorizing or funding research rooted in the taking of innocent human life. That does not mean, though, that people must shun medical treatments that can save lives because they were discovered through means of which we would not necessarily approve. ~ Russell Moore
When ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process. ~ Vatican Office
No community is an island, and the landscape of immunity that surrounds a community really matters. ~ Shweta Bansal
Geographic clustering is going to make the path to herd immunity a lot less of a straight line, and essentially means we’ll be playing a game of whack-a-mole with COVID outbreaks. ~ Christie Aschwanden
  • As COVID-19 vaccines become available, supply is expected to initially fall short of demand. In response, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has issued guidance on which groups should be prioritized to receive vaccines. For the first phase of vaccine allocation, the ACIP recommended healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents as recipients. This recommendation was based on risks endemic to these populations, as well as ethical principles related to benefits and harms, mitigating health inequalities, and promoting justice. Commercial truck drivers have played a vital and underappreciated role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the indispensable role that commercial drivers play in distributing vaccines, they have not been recommended for vaccine allocation in the next phase (1b) by the ACIP. However, the rationale and ethical principles cited for the first vaccine phase suggest that these workers should be recommended for inclusion. By doing so, the acquisition and transmission of COVID-19 may be mitigated, which would benefit both these workers and the US public. Further, persistent vulnerabilities render commercial truck drivers susceptible to severe COVID-19 infection; therefore, vaccination during the next phase is imperative to curb the exacerbation of extant health inequities. Finally, because present-day COVID-19 vulnerabilities in these workers have been shaped by unjust policies over the past several decades, and because COVID-19 public health policies have excluded and potentially exacerbated the impacts of the pandemic for these workers, allocating vaccines to commercial truck drivers is a necessary step toward promoting justice.
  • The new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may offer the best prospect for protecting as many Americans as possible, as quickly as possible, but some U.S. faith leaders say they have moral concerns about its development.
    Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was produced in part through the use of cell lines derived from an aborted human fetus. In a statement released this week, leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that this feature of the vaccine raises questions about its permissibility.
    "If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's," say Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. Naumann chairs the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Rhoades chairs the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine.
  • "We should oppose authorizing or funding research rooted in the taking of innocent human life," says Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
    "That does not mean, though," Moore tells NPR, "that people must shun medical treatments that can save lives because they were discovered through means of which we would not necessarily approve."
  • "When ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available," the Vatican office said, "it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."
    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed with the use of PER.C6, a fetal cell line that originated in an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985. According to a June 2020 article in Science, human fetal cells can be used as "miniature 'factories' to generate vast quantities of adenoviruses ... that are used as vehicles to ferry genes from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19."
    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also make use of human fetal cells, but only during testing of the vaccines' efficacy, a fact that makes them acceptable, according to a lengthy statement from the U.S. bishops issued in December.
    "While neither vaccine is completely free from any connection to morally compromised cell lines," the bishops said, "in this case the connection is very remote from the initial evil of the abortion."
  • I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly. But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.
  • “Herd immunity is only relevant if we have a transmission-blocking vaccine. If we don’t, then the only way to get herd immunity in the population is to give everyone the vaccine,” says Shweta Bansal, a mathematical biologist at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Vaccine effectiveness for halting transmission needs to be “pretty darn high” for herd immunity to matter, she says, and at the moment, the data aren’t conclusive. “The Moderna and Pfizer data look quite encouraging,” she says, but exactly how well these and other vaccines stop people from transmitting the virus will have big implications.
    A vaccine’s ability to block transmission doesn’t need to be 100% to make a difference. Even 70% effectiveness would be “amazing”, says Samuel Scarpino, a network scientist who studies infectious diseases at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. But there could still be a substantial amount of virus spread that would make it a lot harder to break transmission chains.
  • In most countries, vaccine distribution is stratified by age, with priority given to older people, who are at the highest risk of dying from COVID-19. When and whether there will be a vaccine approved for children, however, remains to be seen. Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna have now enrolled teens in clinical trials of their vaccines, and the Oxford–AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech vaccines are being tested in children as young as three. But results are still months away. If it’s not possible to vaccinate children, many more adults would need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity, Bansal says. (Those aged 16 and older can receive the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine, but other vaccines are approved only for ages 18 and up.) In the United States, for example, 24% of people are under 18 years old (according to 2010 census data). If most under-18s can’t receive the vaccine, 100% of over-18s will have to be vaccinated to reach 76% immunity in the population.
    Another important thing to consider, Bansal says, is the geographical structure of herd immunity. “No community is an island, and the landscape of immunity that surrounds a community really matters,” she says. COVID-19 has occurred in clusters across the United States as a result of people’s behaviour or local policies. Previous vaccination efforts suggest that uptake will tend to cluster geographically, too, Bansal adds. Localized resistance to the measles vaccination, for example, has resulted in small pockets of disease resurgence. “Geographic clustering is going to make the path to herd immunity a lot less of a straight line, and essentially means we’ll be playing a game of whack-a-mole with COVID outbreaks.” Even for a country with high vaccination rates, such as Israel, if surrounding countries haven’t done the same and populations are able to mix, the potential for new outbreaks remains.

April 2021[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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