Sunday 31 May 2020

Day 76 of self-isolation - More possible vaccines

It's Sunday, and we're running out of food. OK, we've got tins of stuff, so we won't starve, but we ran out of fresh fruit and vegetables. All the avocado and asparagus is gone. But the Waitrose van arrives today.

... later ...

The van arrived, with huge amounts of food, to last us till next weekend. Fish and chips tonight!

We've started to make plans for a cautious family reunion. I might get to see grandsons.1-3 for the first time in months!

More possible vaccines

USA numbers are down, at 1015, which is encouraging. Not so encouraging are the pictures I'm seeing of the riots, where I see a lot of people without masks who are not social distancing.

In the UK, numbers are down to 215, which is also encouraging. Reopening is going to happen, despite worries from some experts. Big close-together demonstrations in London. The virus will be delighted.

Latin America is still a tragic tribulation; India and Pakistan still growing fast.

A new technology for making vaccines has been developed. The big advantage of this method, is that it can potentially lead to a much faster track to a vaccine. Instead of the usual 18 months, it could be as little as six months. Science!

The old way of making a vaccine was to use whole but inactive viruses, and injecting those. This takes a long time, because you have to grow the viruses, then deactivate them (but without completely destroying them).

mRNA is messenger RNA (RNA is what viruses are made of, it's kind of like DNA, but much simpler. One obvious difference is that it's a single helix instead of a double helix.

mRNA is used by the body to send messages around on what proteins to make. Using mRNA to make vaccines has been in research for 30 years, but now, perhaps, this research has become sufficiently advanced to be practical.

The Oxford University vaccine(which has been in human trials for a month now) is an mRNA vaccine. There's another runner in this race, from ModeRNA Therapeutics, which has passed the initial safety checks, and will now be tested in 600 humans, starting next week. It's too soon to say when this vaccine might be ready,

Because mRNA vaccines are using such a different technology from tradition al vaccines, it is hoped that we might have 30 million doses of the vaccine by this autumn, with a billion not long after.

Pfizer is hoping to have millions of doses of their vaccine by October - also based on mRNA. It looks like this is the technology with the best chance of getting a vaccine by the end of 2020.

But nothing is certain. Another hundred companies are trying to develop vaccines - we hope that at least one of them is practical, and preferably sooner rather than later.

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