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We should make vaccines before viruses emerge

NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,217 Member Member Posts: 10,217 Member
A lot like the flu shot, they make educated predictions about what strains will circulate before it happens. And we don't spend 15 years testing it, we know the framework for making flu shots is safe.

Sounds crazy, right? Because of SARS and MERS, public health people knew it was a matter of time until another coronavirus went pandemic. They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.

It took 2 days for Moderna to engineer a molecule that's 95% effective against the disease. Thanks to all the research during SARS1. That's how they knew to target the spike protein.

Scientists have a very good idea which virus families have the potential to become pandemic. Like the flu, if we have the vaccine on the shelf when the virus emerges, the best matching shot may (or may not) need tweaking if it's a novel strain, and for the most part only the changes will need to be tested, instead of the whole thing. Like the flu shot.

We can do Phase 1 & 2 testing ahead of time. We can even do some limited Phase 3 trials, verifying that the shot makes people produce antibodies. More efficacy testing would be needed it the virus became a problem, compared to starting from scratch.

This would cost about a millionth of what covid has so far. We could have jabbed our way to herd immunity by last summer. Almost 3 million have died so far worldwide.

This isn't my idea, it was cooked up by people smarter than me who work in public health.

Replies

  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,217 Member Member Posts: 10,217 Member
    Vaccines and especially the new mRNA ones that can be retooled almost immediately are the most dramatic shift in the balance of power between viruses and living things in the 2 or 3 billion years viruses have existed.
  • YellowD0gsYellowD0gs Member Posts: 401 Member Member Posts: 401 Member
    Figure out a way to predict the future of something as complicated as a genome, and you'll be a very rich person. Until then, a genome has to evolve and arise, and demonstrate a significant risk before a vaccine can be developed for it. Vaccines will always follow the virus. But as NorthCascades said, mRNA vaccines may be a game-changer.
  • 33gail3333gail33 Member Posts: 576 Member Member Posts: 576 Member
    Pretty sure they have been doing this for years - I read a very in depth piece about it a while back that there are labs all over the world that create these more virulent viruses that are capable of infecting humans in order to study them and be prepared when one hits. One of those labs is in Wuhan. Coincidence I'm sure. :smile:
    And since I'm sure I will get a TON of disagrees on this I am going to try to dig up the article that made a case for the possibility that this virus was man made - or at least laboratory enhanced. (FWIW I don't have an opinion either way but it was a very interesting read.)

    Found it:

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/coronavirus-lab-escape-theory.html?fbclid=IwAR3mq4n5WJ8SAnNy3f9ifusS20Ys-4fGZjHuRwDfA4usmFBAwUGNVtZtD1w
    edited March 23
  • LisaGetsMovingLisaGetsMoving Member Posts: 540 Member Member Posts: 540 Member
    They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.
    It was first recognized in Seattle, but now we know that at least one person who died in California was sick with it in December.
    edited March 23
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,217 Member Member Posts: 10,217 Member
    YellowD0gs wrote: »
    Figure out a way to predict the future of something as complicated as a genome, and you'll be a very rich person. Until then, a genome has to evolve and arise, and demonstrate a significant risk before a vaccine can be developed for it. Vaccines will always follow the virus. But as NorthCascades said, mRNA vaccines may be a game-changer.

    This is what I thought too. It's common sense. But, again, it took Moderna 2 days to design the covid vaccine because the approach to a SARS vax works on covid. If covid is even a descendant of SARS they're separated by almost 20 years and have passed through at least two other animals before coming back to humans. The idea being it's likely to be a small mutation that makes a virus turn extremely dangerous, if we have a shot ready for the first virus it might work for the second one, or it might need small changes. But we can cover a lot of the field ahead of time.

    I don't have any illusions that this is going to happen, I'm posting to point out that it isn't impossible. Funding an adventure like this (obviously after this miserable pandemic is over) would be much less expensive for governments than funding relief packages, but more expensive than doing nothing, which is why it's not going to happen.
  • lkpduckylkpducky Member Posts: 12,711 Member Member Posts: 12,711 Member
    Here is some news on research on the latest treatments and developing another vaccine
    This is from biospace.com, I had to shorten the link.
    https://bit.ly/31gDVDj
  • 4legsRbetterthan24legsRbetterthan2 Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium Posts: 18,894 MFP Moderator Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium Posts: 18,894 MFP Moderator
    1. I am not sure any sort of drug trial would be approved to treat a non-existant disease. Thats an interesting ethical delimma.
    2. Research is half the battle. In a worldwide pandemic like SARS-COV-2 production is also a big limiting factor. Producing and storing enough "maybe" vaccines to be prepared for a mass roll-out would be expensive.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,217 Member Member Posts: 10,217 Member
    #1 is a real interesting point. Pretty big stumbling block. Good catch!

    I don't think production issues would be a problem for doing this though. If people knew what to produce they could get started sooner in the next pandemic. There could still be supply chain and production issues but starting to tackle them on day 30 instead of day 365 can only help the overall problem. 🙂
  • ThoinThoin Member Posts: 374 Member Member Posts: 374 Member
    A lot like the flu shot, they make educated predictions about what strains will circulate before it happens. And we don't spend 15 years testing it, we know the framework for making flu shots is safe.

    Sounds crazy, right? Because of SARS and MERS, public health people knew it was a matter of time until another coronavirus went pandemic. They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.

    It took 2 days for Moderna to engineer a molecule that's 95% effective against the disease. Thanks to all the research during SARS1. That's how they knew to target the spike protein.

    Scientists have a very good idea which virus families have the potential to become pandemic. Like the flu, if we have the vaccine on the shelf when the virus emerges, the best matching shot may (or may not) need tweaking if it's a novel strain, and for the most part only the changes will need to be tested, instead of the whole thing. Like the flu shot.

    We can do Phase 1 & 2 testing ahead of time. We can even do some limited Phase 3 trials, verifying that the shot makes people produce antibodies. More efficacy testing would be needed it the virus became a problem, compared to starting from scratch.

    This would cost about a millionth of what covid has so far. We could have jabbed our way to herd immunity by last summer. Almost 3 million have died so far worldwide.

    This isn't my idea, it was cooked up by people smarter than me who work in public health.

    I think this would be great. However, I've seen warehouses filled with unused medications (for emergency outbreaks like malaria) so I have to ask, what happens if they guess wrong?
  • 4legsRbetterthan24legsRbetterthan2 Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium Posts: 18,894 MFP Moderator Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium Posts: 18,894 MFP Moderator
    Thoin wrote: »
    A lot like the flu shot, they make educated predictions about what strains will circulate before it happens. And we don't spend 15 years testing it, we know the framework for making flu shots is safe.

    Sounds crazy, right? Because of SARS and MERS, public health people knew it was a matter of time until another coronavirus went pandemic. They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.

    It took 2 days for Moderna to engineer a molecule that's 95% effective against the disease. Thanks to all the research during SARS1. That's how they knew to target the spike protein.

    Scientists have a very good idea which virus families have the potential to become pandemic. Like the flu, if we have the vaccine on the shelf when the virus emerges, the best matching shot may (or may not) need tweaking if it's a novel strain, and for the most part only the changes will need to be tested, instead of the whole thing. Like the flu shot.

    We can do Phase 1 & 2 testing ahead of time. We can even do some limited Phase 3 trials, verifying that the shot makes people produce antibodies. More efficacy testing would be needed it the virus became a problem, compared to starting from scratch.

    This would cost about a millionth of what covid has so far. We could have jabbed our way to herd immunity by last summer. Almost 3 million have died so far worldwide.

    This isn't my idea, it was cooked up by people smarter than me who work in public health.

    I think this would be great. However, I've seen warehouses filled with unused medications (for emergency outbreaks like malaria) so I have to ask, what happens if they guess wrong?

    That was part of the point I was trying to make with my #2 above. This idea proposes we expand the amount of emergency drugs we keep on hand, which the governmeny has to buy, and then stores, then replinish their stock if they do not get used by their expiration date. How much taxes do you want to pay for "maybe relevant one day" drugs.

  • ThoinThoin Member Posts: 374 Member Member Posts: 374 Member
    Thoin wrote: »
    A lot like the flu shot, they make educated predictions about what strains will circulate before it happens. And we don't spend 15 years testing it, we know the framework for making flu shots is safe.

    Sounds crazy, right? Because of SARS and MERS, public health people knew it was a matter of time until another coronavirus went pandemic. They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.

    It took 2 days for Moderna to engineer a molecule that's 95% effective against the disease. Thanks to all the research during SARS1. That's how they knew to target the spike protein.

    Scientists have a very good idea which virus families have the potential to become pandemic. Like the flu, if we have the vaccine on the shelf when the virus emerges, the best matching shot may (or may not) need tweaking if it's a novel strain, and for the most part only the changes will need to be tested, instead of the whole thing. Like the flu shot.

    We can do Phase 1 & 2 testing ahead of time. We can even do some limited Phase 3 trials, verifying that the shot makes people produce antibodies. More efficacy testing would be needed it the virus became a problem, compared to starting from scratch.

    This would cost about a millionth of what covid has so far. We could have jabbed our way to herd immunity by last summer. Almost 3 million have died so far worldwide.

    This isn't my idea, it was cooked up by people smarter than me who work in public health.

    I think this would be great. However, I've seen warehouses filled with unused medications (for emergency outbreaks like malaria) so I have to ask, what happens if they guess wrong?

    That was part of the point I was trying to make with my #2 above. This idea proposes we expand the amount of emergency drugs we keep on hand, which the governmeny has to buy, and then stores, then replinish their stock if they do not get used by their expiration date. How much taxes do you want to pay for "maybe relevant one day" drugs.

    Thanks for bringing up this thread again. I was trying to remember the name and where it was. I have since heard some interesting info pertaining to this subject.

    So the current pandemic price is around $20 Trillion. I think that's total but maybe for the US?
    For about $2 billion, Crowe said, he and his colleagues could develop monoclonal antibodies that could protect against the 100 most likely human epidemics. The focus would be on "how much of the mat can you cover with your antibodies, rather than picking the virus du jour," he said.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/02/21/develop-universal-coronavirus-vaccines-treatments-fight-next-pandemic/6784129002/

    So to me, it makes sense to do this now.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,217 Member Member Posts: 10,217 Member
    Thoin wrote: »
    A lot like the flu shot, they make educated predictions about what strains will circulate before it happens. And we don't spend 15 years testing it, we know the framework for making flu shots is safe.

    Sounds crazy, right? Because of SARS and MERS, public health people knew it was a matter of time until another coronavirus went pandemic. They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.

    It took 2 days for Moderna to engineer a molecule that's 95% effective against the disease. Thanks to all the research during SARS1. That's how they knew to target the spike protein.

    Scientists have a very good idea which virus families have the potential to become pandemic. Like the flu, if we have the vaccine on the shelf when the virus emerges, the best matching shot may (or may not) need tweaking if it's a novel strain, and for the most part only the changes will need to be tested, instead of the whole thing. Like the flu shot.

    We can do Phase 1 & 2 testing ahead of time. We can even do some limited Phase 3 trials, verifying that the shot makes people produce antibodies. More efficacy testing would be needed it the virus became a problem, compared to starting from scratch.

    This would cost about a millionth of what covid has so far. We could have jabbed our way to herd immunity by last summer. Almost 3 million have died so far worldwide.

    This isn't my idea, it was cooked up by people smarter than me who work in public health.

    I think this would be great. However, I've seen warehouses filled with unused medications (for emergency outbreaks like malaria) so I have to ask, what happens if they guess wrong?

    That was part of the point I was trying to make with my #2 above. This idea proposes we expand the amount of emergency drugs we keep on hand, which the governmeny has to buy, and then stores, then replinish their stock if they do not get used by their expiration date. How much taxes do you want to pay for "maybe relevant one day" drugs.

    I dunno. I'm happy to pay taxes to have fire fighters available even though my house never caught fire and I don't think it ever will. Almost everyone thinks it's smart to pay for car insurance. I know I don't want to pay a lot of taxes to keep paying almost every citizen $1k+ several times a year and bail out half the industries that exist.
  • Theo166Theo166 Member, Premium Posts: 2,495 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,495 Member
    A lot like the flu shot, they make educated predictions about what strains will circulate before it happens. And we don't spend 15 years testing it, we know the framework for making flu shots is safe.

    Sounds crazy, right? Because of SARS and MERS, public health people knew it was a matter of time until another coronavirus went pandemic. They thought it would arrive in Chicago instead of Seattle but got the rest right.
    Isn't what you propose exactly like the flu shot. I see someone already trying to combine them
    https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/flu-shot-and-covid-19-vaccine-combo-launches-phase-1-study

    I'm curious if the flu vaccine will move to mrna now that covid has broken the way.

    I expect we'll need a regular shot, to cover the latest variants of COVID and boost general protection. It would be nice if it's merged into a single annual covid/flu vaccine.
  • kshama2001kshama2001 Member Posts: 23,739 Member Member Posts: 23,739 Member
    Lack of will to fund is a real stumbling block. Heard a piece about lack of malaria funding last month:

    https://www.wbur.org/npr/979809529/covid-19-vaccine-progress-could-mean-good-news-for-malaria-vaccine

    "...probably in the 10 months of 2020, in excess of $14 billion were invested in developing SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The one [malaria] vaccine that we have, RTS,S - that's taken 30 years to develop, probably all along received far less than $1 billion. So vaccines against malaria because they are targeted to some of the poorest sectors of our global community represent a market failure, and they therefore don't attract the type of resources that can be and are mobilized when the problem does affect other parts of the world."
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