The Herman Trend Alert
June 17, 2020
The Truth about Vaccines Part 1
Most of us know that unless and until we have a vaccine that works, we will not be ready to breathe a sigh of relief; we will not feel protected against this novel (new) COVID-19 virus. There is so very much to say about vaccines that to do an adequate job, it will take me two or maybe even three Herman Trend Alerts. Today is Part 1. Oh, one more thing, during this entire lockdown and series of Trend Alerts, I have endeavored to stay above the political fray, though some of my readers would dispute that. As I discuss the science of vaccines, I will continue to do my best to be a trusted source of information for you.
What is a Vaccine?
According to WEBMD.com, "a vaccine is a substance that helps protect against certain diseases." Vaccines are not yet available for all diseases, but it is undeniable that having a Smallpox vaccine allowed us to eradicate Smallpox and having a Polio vaccine allowed us to eradicate Polio.
Five Types of Vaccines
There are five main types of vaccines: Attenuated, Inactivated, Toxoid, Subunit, and Conjugate. However, the first two are the most popular and widely used.
How These Vaccines Work
Basically, vaccines contain a dead or weakened version of a microbe. They help your immune system recognize and destroy the living microbes during future infections.
So Here's the Bad News. . .
According to Bill Gates and others in the know, it typically takes at least four years to develop a vaccine that works. Why? Because once the vaccine is through animal testing, it moves to human trials. Testing on human beings requires months. First, researchers need to determine that the vaccine actually works on humans to prevent them from becoming infected. Then, they need to ensure that the vaccine does not harm the human guinea pigs. After that, we need to manufacture millions of doses---and get people to take them. According to New York Times Best-selling Author Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, "vaccine development rarely goes smoothly." Garrett's best-case vaccine scenario is 36 months. Moreover, she does not expect that vaccine anytime within the next year.
And Now for the Good News. . .
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 70 potential vaccines in development, all of which are at different stages. Many governments (including the United States) and global pharmaceutical companies are investing extraordinary amounts of money, effort, and expertise to address COVID-19. Plus, recently, we have had some very good news from clinical research teams at the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group in the United Kingdom. They began working in February on a vaccine. Amazingly, they began human trials in the end of April. Yes, this program is already in human trials.
How this Advancement is Possible
We have been able to leapfrog in this development by making their vaccine from a weakened version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees. This weakened virus, has been modified so it simply cannot grow in humans. To make the vaccine, the spike glycoprotein from the virus that causes COVID-19 was then added. The hope is that the body will recognize and develop an effective immune response to the spike protein that will help stop the COVID-19 virus from entering human cells and thus, ultimately, prevent infection. In Phase 1, the researchers have a cadre of 1,102 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55. The human trials started off slowly; their first two volunteers, were a scientist and a cancer researcher. Two days later, six more volunteers were injected. Then the trial was expanded to 550 participants who were given the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (the test vaccine) and for comparison, 550 were given a control vaccine against meningitis and sepsis.
Phases 2 and 3
For information on subsequent phases, other vaccine efforts, and the anti-vaxxer movement, you will need to tune in next week. The bottom line is that this effort holds promise for all of us. However, it is very soon to start celebrating---as you will read next week.
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