Navy Net - Royal Navy Community

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Finding a vaccine to fight Covid 19 explained ........


There is much talk of producing a vaccine to combat Covid19, and I was having trouble understanding what the process involved, so I asked a very good friend of mine to explain it to me in layman's terms. For many years he was a highly respected Biochemist, and here is his reply to my query which I think makes very interesting reading. He has granted permission for his reply to be posted on Navy Net, and I have cut and pasted it unabridged from his email to me :-

Corona viruses are quite common.They mutate quite rapidly.The covid19 one is particularly nasty because it goes for the lungs and is some hundreds of times more infectious than others.
Older vaccines were produced by innoculating eggs,harvesting the virus and killing it off and injecting the now harmless dead vaccine to kid the immune system it is under attack to produce antibodies.The antibodies are specific to the particular strain of virus which is why we need to modify the flue vaccine for several strains each year.
So why so long ?
There are now several ways to go about producing vaccines now they can determine the DNA so they know the building blocks that make up the particular strain and try to find which bit causes the production of antibodies .There are hundreds of labs working on different bits and how they can make them on huge scale.
For example they have found a protein on the spikes of the virus which enables it to lock on to the cells of the lung causing a huge immune response which is the main cause of death.
So you have many different types needing testing,many of which are completely new to science and they all have to be tested and proven to be both safe and effective.
They start with animals,usually macaque monkeys,and inject them with the virus.
They then wait for weeks to look for side effects and antibodies.They do this on increasing dosages to see if there is an optimum.
There is a huge failure rate even at this early stage.
They then have to get healthy human volunteers with no antibodies to be given the vaccine.they wait several weeks to see if they have produced antibodies.again lots of failures,significant side effects or not enough antibodies produced or need to try different dosage.
They then have to persuade the relevant health agency to proceed with clinical trials.
If they get the go ahead they start phase 1 involving perhaps hundreds from the general population using the vaccine and a harmless other vaccine in blind trials.
Here they are mainly looking for harmful side effects for different dosages.
Lots of failures
If they get the go ahead they go to phase 2 where as well a safety they are looking for effectiveness as evidenced by production of antibodies.
They may have to carry out several of these to optimise dose and different groups.
If approved they get permission to go to phase 3.
Here it gets particularly difficult.
If you have a vaccine for a cancer you can select patients you know have cancer and compare remission with and without the drug and you know it is a small population which is under scrutiny.
If you have a global pandemic you have to cover so much more and you have to work with the medical community around the world to recruit sufficient numbers to be meaningful which will run into many thousands for each vaccine which reaches this stage
Some things which complicate
You will gauge success on production of antibodies and on effectiveness__reduction of transmission,intensive care patients,deaths
The majority of people have never had the virus so too small a sample might not include anybody with the disease so no proof the vaccine might have worked.
It is now known that some groups are many times more susceptible than others.This would mean the trials should be carried out in many countries and many communities
Large numbers have the virus and no symptoms so you would not know if antibodies were present because they have had the virus or the vaccine so multiple testing would be necessary throughout the trial.
Finally production facilities would have to be built on spec in advance of the vaccine being approved without knowing which type of process has been used and all the infrastructure and raw materials stockpiled which is an enormous financial commitment.
40 million doses in the uk alone

It needs 70 percent of the population world wide to be vaccinated to ensure the epidemic has stopped and at the moment there appears to be a consensus that any country that comes up with a success will make it available world wide.

I hope you find this as interesting as I did - stay safe!
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS UN Human Rights Council 45: Interactive Dialogue with the Fact Finding Mission on Libya MoD News 0
MoD_RSS UN Human Rights Council 45: Interactive Dialogue with the Fact Finding mission on Venezuela MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Finding solutions to global displacement MoD News 0
MoD_RSS UK statement on the ICJ finding on Myanmar and the Rohingya MoD News 0
MoD_RSS UN Human Rights Council 42: Interactive Dialogue with the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: 3 major UK construction suppliers in provisional cartel finding MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Countering Drones: finding and neutralising small UAS threats MoD News 0
T Finding Service Number for Letter Nearest & Dearest 6
MoD_RSS Speech: Finding a peaceful resolution to tensions in Haiti MoD News 0
P Help finding a former RN submarine officer Submariners 9
MoD_RSS Speech: Security Council briefing on the UN Fact-Finding Mission in Burma MoD News 0
W Finding the truth The Quarterdeck 22
D Finding work as a Reserve Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) 4
E FINDING OUT RT SCORE Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 5
M Help finding out past. History 12
U Help, with finding my Grandfathers Navy Service records, during ww2??... History 8
MasterChief Help in finding info on a war grave History 4
K Help Needed Finding A RN Badge History 5
S Finding an old Oppo Nearest & Dearest 13
Oil_Slick So long F-35? Even the Yanks are finding it expensive Current Affairs 3
nethyman Finding out about Grandad History 9
D Finding uppos The Fleet Air Arm 12
MasterChief Help in finding info on a war grave Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) 3
MoD_RSS Armed Forces to set up vaccine sites in Scotland MoD News 0
MoD_RSS British public urged to play their part in historic vaccine roll out MoD News 0
MoD_RSS A vaccine delivery plan for everyone MoD News 0
MoD_RSS More than 2.2 million people in UK receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine MoD News 1
MoD_RSS Statement from Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi on vaccine deployment MoD News 0
MoD_RSS UK raises $1BN so vulnerable countries can get vaccine MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Moderna COVID-19 vaccine authorised by UK medicines regulator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Moderna vaccine becomes third COVID-19 vaccine approved by UK regulator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Flu vaccine uptake among over 65s highest on record MoD News 0
MoD_RSS First people to receive Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine today (4 January 2021) MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine gives hope as Tier 3 and 4 measures extend to wider areas MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Second COVID-19 vaccine authorised by medicines regulator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS JCVI issues advice on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Statement on the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for use in the UK MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine approved MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine authorised by UK medicines regulator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Over 600,000 people get first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Armed Forces support for vaccine roll-out in Wales MoD News 0
MoD_RSS More than 137,000 people in UK receive first dose of COVID vaccine in one week MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Fifth COVID-19 vaccine starts UK clinical trials MoD News 0
MoD_RSS People with long-term health conditions urged to get flu vaccine before Christmas MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine MoD News 0
MoD_RSS June Raine: How we backed a COVID-19 vaccine before rest of the West MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Alister Jack welcomes coronavirus vaccine rollout to Scotland MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Government to add COVID-19 to Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme MoD News 0
MoD_RSS COVID-19 vaccine authorised by medicines regulator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS An update on the coronavirus vaccine, 2 December 2020 MoD News 0
Similar threads

Latest Threads