COVID-19 vaccine

vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccine is a vaccine that aims to confer acquired immunity against coronary disease 2019. There are several different vaccine technologies used to provide limited or total immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19).

Organized chronologically

2020

January 2020

February 2020

  • 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

 
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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Governments could help vaccine makers to plan ahead, says Ohid Yaqub, a health-policy researcher at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, by signalling how much vaccine they plan to purchase and who they would recommend to be immunized.
    A step further would be to set up what are known as advanced market commitments to purchase drugs at a specific price ahead of the vaccine being approved, as has happened for the distribution for pneumococcal vaccine to children through GAVI.
    Berkley and others also say that donor countries could sell bonds to investors as a way to finance vaccines for populations that cannot afford them. This approach has also been used successfully before: the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) to raise money for vaccines that GAVI has provided to children.
  • 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

 
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.
  • Fortunately, it is possible to manufacture a vaccine that does not make use of aborted fetal cells. For instance, Sanofi-Pasteur is using its own recombinant DNA platform to produce its vaccine. They have created a DNA platform which utilizes insect cells, specifically the fall armyworm, as its base. The technology produces an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus, which could enable the introduction of a vaccine even faster than one produced traditionally. Debi Vinnedge, commenting on the Sanofi process, stated: “This is great news for millions of people world-wide who are concerned with the use of aborted fetal material in life-saving treatments or vaccines. There is a multitude of moral options that are safer and quite frankly, utilize more modern technology.”
    While the vaccines are still in the development and/or trial stage, life-affirming people should discourage pharmaceutical companies from utilizing fetal cell strains and our government from supporting such development.
  • Although we have been focused specifically on the COVID-19 vaccine, the ethical implications of the use of aborted fetal cells are long-reaching. Each medical benefit or scientific advance gained through the use of fetal tissue desensitizes the beneficiaries, scientists, and doctors to the original evil act that produced these cells. Aborted fetal tissues used in laboratories are minimized and treated merely as “human cells,” and the human beings whose lives were taken to provide those cells become irrelevant. The greatest concern is that desensitization will erroneously validate elective abortions, so much so that they will be perceived in the scientific community as a societal “good.” Absent careful oversight, the unborn could become, like fetal tissue cell lines, merely cells, cultured within the uterus of a woman to be used for scientific exploration.
  • Anglicans for Life believes that every human being is created in the image of God and has value from the moment of conception. Abortion, and anything that fosters or encourages abortion, is morally illicit and must be resisted. Therefore, all people of good conscience, even during this pandemic, have the responsibility to voice opposition to the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions in the creation of a vaccine, in order to promote the development of ethical alternatives and to affirm the value of all human life.
    To that end, AFL encourages you to contact the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and urge them to ensure that vaccines developed to combat the COVID-19 are not “morally compromised” by any connection to cell lines created from the remains of aborted babies.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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

 
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.
 
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. ~ Jane Metcalfe
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.
 
“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 ones. 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%.
 
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

 
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, editors 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 vaccine, 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 animals,” 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

 
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."
  • 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. ... The fundamental reason for considering the use of these vaccines morally licit is that the kind of cooperation in evil (passive material cooperation) in the procured abortion from which these cell lines originate is, on the part of those making use of the resulting vaccines, remote. The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent--in this case, the pandemic spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive. It should be emphasized, however, that the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.... At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. ... Finally, there is also a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, governments and international organizations to ensure that vaccines, which are effective and safe from a medical point of view, as well as ethically acceptable, are also accessible to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them. The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty.
  • 1. As the Instruction Dignitas Personae states, in cases where cells from aborted fetuses are employed to create cell lines for use in scientific research, “there exist differing degrees of responsibility” of cooperation in evil. For example,“in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision”.
    2. In this sense, when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available (e.g. in countries where vaccines without ethical problems are not made available to physicians and patients, or where their distribution is more difficult due to special storage and transport conditions, or when various types of vaccines are distributed in the same country but health authorities do not allow citizens to choose the vaccine with which to be inoculated) it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.
    3. The fundamental reason for considering the use of these vaccines morally licit is that the kind of cooperation in evil (passive material cooperation) in the procured abortion from which these cell lines originate is, on the part of those making use of the resulting vaccines, remote. The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent--in this case, the pandemic spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive. It should be emphasized, however, that the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.
    4. In fact, the licit use of such vaccines does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses. Both pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies are therefore encouraged to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated.
    5. At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable.
    6. Finally, there is also a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, governments and international organizations to ensure that vaccines, which are effective and safe from a medical point of view, as well as ethically acceptable, are also accessible to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them. The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty.
 
[T]he finish line is in sight. So we’ve just got to keep on running. American people, we need you to keep on running. We’re going to get there. ~ Jerome Adams
 
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.
  • 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.”

2021

January 2021

  • 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.

February 2021

 
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.”

March 2021

 
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.
  • "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

  • America is rapidly approaching the point where demand, not supply, is the limiting factor of our vaccine rollout. Our job now is hearing out the worries of vaccine-hesitant friends and trying to assuage their concerns. My fellow Catholics are one group in need of assurance.
    Although the Vatican has stated clearly that the vaccines approved in the United States are “morally licit” to receive, some Catholics are reluctant because these vaccines have been developed or tested using lab-replicated cells cultured from aborted fetuses.
    Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, sent a letter to his diocese that read, “I urge you to reject any vaccine that uses the remains of aborted children in research, testing, development, or production.” On social media, the vaccine selfies I see are interspersed with friends sharing Bishop Strickland’s and other prelates’ exhortations and grieving over their friends’ willingness to compromise with what they see as evil. Vaccine-hesitant Catholics are reluctant to accept protection from viral contagion at the risk of moral taint.
    I’ve gotten both my shots and I strongly believe other Catholics should get vaccinated, too. But I don’t think those qualms are entirely misguided, and they’re not limited to vaccinations. When we reap the benefit of what we see as a past injustice, we are implicated in the original wrongdoing. We have to decide if our actions compound the original abuse and what kinds of reparations we must make.

May 2021

  • Schaffner said he believes vaccination rates would improve among those who object for political reasons if the governor, state and local elected officials would discuss the importance of vaccination. Business leaders, chambers of commerce and religious leaders also should promote vaccination, Schaffner said.
    Schaffner said there's "a real political veneer" to the portion of the population that has refused vaccination. Without strong endorsements from local political and business leaders, it might be difficult to convince people to get vaccinated.
    "It’s everybody’s individual responsibility to make this decision. The question is, what is the most responsible thing you can do?" Schaffner said. "The most responsible thing for you to do is get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family and your whole community."
  • Currently, the UK variant (B.117) is the dominant strain in the United States. Because that variant has crowded out other variants that vaccines are less effective against, we haven't seen the same spike in deaths as in some other countries, Mokdad said.
    But that could change if the South African or Brazilian variants catch on here, because the vaccines work less well against them and can reinfect people who have had other types of COVID-19.
    Katonah doesn't buy this thesis. "I'm not concerned about variants like I was a few months ago," he said. "Every single variant has been looked at with a vaccine and has been found to be effective...If the variants do start to become problematic, the vaccines can be adjusted. On the fly, they can change the genetic code that's in an mRNA vaccine."
  • David Hardy, MD, a scientific and medical consultant who is an adjunct clinical professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, said it's not clear how effective the current vaccines are against the South African and Brazilian variants.
    "Because the vaccines used in the US, Pfizer and Moderna, were not tested in that part of the world, we don't have good on-the-ground human clinical testing of whether those vaccines protect against the variants or not. We have in vitro data, in which they took the plasma of people who were vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna and have tested the plasma against those variants in vitro. Those plasma antibodies seem to neutralize the variants, although not as well as they neutralize the original SARS-CoV-2 virus or the UK variant."

June 2021

  • A big part of the problem has been access to supplies. Australia's programme is most reliant on the AstraZeneca shot, followed by Pfizer. It also has supply deals for Moderna and Novavax, if those vaccines are approved by regulators.
    The country's initial efforts in securing vaccines appeared promising. It was among the first to announce an order with AstraZeneca, and also trumpeted its local manufacturing capacity with medical firm CSL.
    Early in the rollout, though, confusion over just how much stock Australia had began to circle. A tussle with the European Union led to part of the AstraZeneca order being held back. And a lack of clear, public information has made it difficult to assess supply levels.
    At the same time, domestic production hasn't lived up to expectations. Manufacturing began in March, with the government failing early on to hit its target of about one million doses a week.

July 2021

 
Young people really are hundreds of times less vulnerable than seniors, and Republicans are, on average, a lot more realistic than Democrats about a person’s chances of developing severe disease once they’ve been infected by the coronavirus. (At the same time, they’re much less realistic about COVID-19’s harms in aggregate.) In other words, efforts to scare more young people or Republicans into getting vaccinated could end up encouraging them to be less informed about the facts, at least narrowly construed, instead of more so. ~ Daniel Engber
 
[W]e're not going to be able to land the plane without turbulence. How much turbulence will track with how many people are vaccinated in a given community. ~ Jessica Malaty Rivera
  • Rather than diverging politics, people’s willingness to get vaccinated might best be understood as a function of how they perceive risk. Although there are more noble reasons to be immunized than self-protection, surveys show that they’re not the ones most often cited. Kaiser finds that among those who have gone in for their shots, more than half say the “main reason” was to reduce their personal risk of illness. Meanwhile, among the unvaccinated, one-half assert that COVID-19 case rates are now so low that further vaccinations are unnecessary.
  • Young people really are hundreds of times less vulnerable than seniors, and Republicans are, on average, a lot more realistic than Democrats about a person’s chances of developing severe disease once they’ve been infected by the coronavirus. (At the same time, they’re much less realistic about COVID-19’s harms in aggregate.) In other words, efforts to scare more young people or Republicans into getting vaccinated could end up encouraging them to be less informed about the facts, at least narrowly construed, instead of more so.
  • The timing of the guidance was off, says Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist who has worked with the COVID Tracking Project.
    "When the Biden administration and the CDC [said] if you're vaccinated, you can take your mask off, I screamed," she says. "Because for so long, we've been talking about getting to a place where transmission is low and vaccination is high. Transmission was lower [at the time]. Vaccination was not high. So it seemed truly premature."
    The tone of the messaging also signaled to vaccinated people that they could throw caution to the wind, Rivera says. "It gave people, in their minds, immunity passports," she says. "It said to them, 'I'm vaccinated — I can go to Miami. I'm vaccinated — I can go to this party in a basement.' "
    The messaging around lifting mask use should have been more gradual, Rivera says: "You can change some of your behavior, but don't just have a rager as if the pandemic wasn't happening. Calibrating, instead of eliminating [all caution], was where we needed to go."
  • One of the most pressing problems has been the shortage of big, sterile plastic bags used to grow vaccine cells inside large vessels called bioreactors.
    They are a little like the bags used in the home-brewing process, says Matthew Downham, sustainable manufacturing lead for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) - a global body aiming to fast-track vaccine production and one of the lead organisations launching the marketplace.
    The giant plastic bags, which can hold up to 2,000 litres, are needed in the process of making all the four types of vaccine currently in manufacture.
  • In order to achieve universal coverage of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months, what we really need is for the US Government to sit down with China, Russia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom to allocate the ongoing global monthly vaccine production in a fair and inclusive manner, rather than having a few rich countries hoard a disproportionate share of the vaccines (and then dispose of many vaccines when they hit their expiration date.)
  • Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccinologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor Col-lege of Medicine, said the Biden administration's acknowledgement of the "terrible impact" of the anti-vaccine movement was important, but he said the government could do more.
    "Anti-science is arguably one of the leading killers of the American people, and yet we don't ... treat it as such. We don't give it the same stature as global terrorism and nuclear proliferation and cyber attacks," he said.
  • The President announced vaccination requirements for the federal government in July and called on the private sector to do more to encourage vaccination as well. Since that time, employers, schools, nursing homes, restaurants, hospitals, and cities in all 50 states have announced new vaccination requirements. Since July, the share of job postings that require vaccination are up 90%. And we know these requirements work. At the beginning of August, when Tyson Foods announced its requirement—only 45% of its workforce had gotten a shot. Today, it stands at 72%, meaning half of Tyson’s unvaccinated workers have now gotten a shot—well ahead of the company’s November 1st deadline. After United Airlines announced its vaccination requirement, more than half of its unvaccinated employees went out and got vaccinated with weeks left to go before the deadline. In Washington State, the weekly vaccination rate jumped 34% after the Governor announced requirements for state workers.
    All told, these efforts—and countless other Administration initiatives and policies—have resulted in over 175 million fully vaccinated Americans. But there are still nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot.

August 2021

 
The Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was found to be associated with a threefold increased risk of myocarditis, according to a real-world case-control study from Israel. ~ Molly Walker
 
A radio presenter died due to complications from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, a coroner has found. Lisa Shaw, who worked for BBC Radio Newcastle, died at the age of 44 in May after developing headaches a week after getting her first dose of the vaccine. Newcastle coroner Karen Dilks heard Ms Shaw suffered blood clots in the brain which ultimately led to her death. ~ BBC
 
Two people died after receiving Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shots that were from the same production line suspended following the discovery of contaminants. According to Japan's health ministry, two men in their 30s died recently within days of receiving their second Moderna doses. ~ Sputnik News
  • With increasing zeal, corporations are seeking to mandate vaccines among their employees, while universities, bureaucracies, and other government institutions around the world are following their lead. Meanwhile, "liberal" pundits have been increasingly advocating for forced vaccination of the population if nicer approaches fail.
  • Vaccinated people appear to be getting the coronavirus at a surprisingly high rate. But exactly how often isn’t clear, nor is it certain how likely they are to spread the virus to others. And now, there’s growing concern that vaccinated people may be more vulnerable to serious illness than previously thought.
  • Available data from short-term follow-up suggest that most individuals have had resolution of symptoms. However, some individuals required intensive care support. Information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes.
  • A radio presenter died due to complications from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, a coroner has found. Lisa Shaw, who worked for BBC Radio Newcastle, died at the age of 44 in May after developing headaches a week after getting her first dose of the vaccine. Newcastle coroner Karen Dilks heard Ms Shaw suffered blood clots in the brain which ultimately led to her death.

September 2021

  • Changes to periods and unexpected vaginal bleeding are not listed, but primary care clinicians and those working in reproductive health are increasingly approached by people who have experienced these events shortly after vaccination.
  • On October 3, in about a week and a half, life will change for close to one million Israelis, 900,000 to be exact, who, according to the Health ministry, are eligible to receive the third dose of the Corona vaccine, but have not yet rolled up their sleeves at their local dispensary. So, on October 3, the government is revoking the Green Tag privileges of anyone who received their second dose more than six months ago and has not yet received the third. It’s like that second shot never happened.
  • The state has no right to require anyone to accept a medical procedure against their will. Therefore, medical procedure mandates are wrong. Whether vaccines or cliterectomy. Wrong. Not ethical. Not acceptable. This is my position.
  • If they have the right to force you to accept vaccine, they have the right to force you to be castrated. Same fundamental issue. Do you have the right to control what medical procedures are done to you, or do you not. It is that simple.

October 2021

 
For these folks, facts mean nothing; membership and identity, everything. Groupishness, in-/out-group differentiation ... is much stronger on the right. ~ William Bernstein
 
The Gates Foundation said the primary barriers to vaccine access it has identified include financing, limited tech transfer, constraints on raw materials, and “nationalist policies that have kept doses concentrated in a few high-income countries.”
  • Today, being pro- or anti-vaccine has become essential to many people’s social identity during the pandemic. William Bernstein, a neurologist and author of The Delusions of Crowds, pointed me to the “moral foundations” theory, which attempts to understand what motivates the decision-making of people on the right and left ends of the political spectrum.
    That theory holds that, within the American right, the concepts of loyalty and betrayal are more influential to their worldview than on the American left. Staying true to your group is a powerful pull for conservatives.
    “For these folks, facts mean nothing; membership and identity, everything,” Bernstein said over email. “Groupishness, in-/out-group differentiation ... is much stronger on the right.”
  • Ultimately, donations have not made up for COVAX’s shortfall. By early October, COVAX had shipped only 330 million of its 2 billion planned doses, 40% of which were donated. “I do not believe donations is the way we should be dealing with a health crisis like this,” Berkley told the Bureau. “What we need is to get those deals locked in and to make sure that manufacturers will deliver on time.”
    “You can’t charity your way out of a pandemic,” Elder of MSF said. “This is why rebalancing between corporate interests and the public’s interest is so important.”
    With frustrations mounting, some advocates have accused COVAX of taking a “business as usual” approach to an unprecedented global emergency.
    “The foundational flaw for me is the fact that they did not put around the table the low- and middle-income countries,” said Joanne Liu, the former international president of MSF. She believes that there was a sense that as a product of the western-led global health system, COVAX could not find the time to or was not interested in listening to the needs of poorer countries, and was instead telling them to be grateful for what they were being given. “That country club mindset needs to change.”
  • The Gates Foundation said the primary barriers to vaccine access it has identified include financing, limited tech transfer, constraints on raw materials, and “nationalist policies that have kept doses concentrated in a few high-income countries.” It added that COVAX is breaking new ground in facilitating access to COVID-19 vaccines for all.
    “Their whole premise is about public-private cooperation,” said Katerini Storeng, an associate professor at the University of Oslo who has researched Gavi and Gates’ approach to improving global health. “And if you’re trying to cooperate with people, you don’t enter into a revolution, do you?”
  • COVAX has shipped doses to 144 countries — but some have received less than half of what they were originally allocated.
    COVAX is clear on who’s to blame for the shortfall: vaccine manufacturers. “There’s no transparency on where we are in the queue,” Berkley told the Bureau. While some manufacturing delays were certainly legitimate, “the question is, are they equally affecting all of their customers? Or are they saying, ‘Gee, we’re going to have more political pressure from high-income countries, and therefore we’re going to allow [COVAX] to slip down the pipeline.’”
    Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, agrees: “It would be probably fair to say that it’s the manufacturers who allocated vaccines globally.”
  • In an attempt to clear up misinformation coming from the medical establishment, Malone said fully vaccinated individuals can spread COVID. “The idea that if you have a workplace where everybody’s vaccinated, you’re not going to have virus spread is totally false. A total lie,” Malone said. The vaccinated are actually the “super-spreaders” that everyone was told about in the beginning of the pandemic, Malone argued.
  • “More than 10 months since the first vaccines were approved, the fact that millions of health care workers still haven’t been vaccinated is an indictment on the countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines,” Tedros said. He added that high- and upper-middle-income countries have now administered almost half as many booster shots as the total number of shots low income countries have administered. And he urged the countries headed to the G20 summit later this month in Rome to tackle vaccine inequity.
  • Annette Kennedy, the president of the International Council of Nurses, argued that governments had forsaken their duty to protect health care workers and warned that pandemic would have long tail effects, with many nurses considering leaving the workforce. She also noted that the high-income countries that were hoarding vaccines and had started booster campaigns “aggressively” recruit nurses from other countries “who cannot afford to lose their nurses or their health care workers.”
    “I wish it was a better day today, I wish it was a day that we would celebrate that all health care workers had been vaccinated or that we had come to the end of Covid-19,” Kennedy said. “But it is not that day. It is a day when we are hearing about 115,000 health care workers who have died, many needlessly, many we could have saved.”
  • “They absolutely do reduce transmission,” says Christopher Byron Brooke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Vaccinated people do transmit the virus in some cases, but the data are super crystal-clear that the risk of transmission for a vaccinated individual is much, much lower than for an unvaccinated individual.”
    A recent study found that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant are 63 per cent less likely to infect people who are unvaccinated.
    This is only slightly lower than with the alpha variant, says Brechje de Gier at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, who led the study. Her team had previously found that vaccinated people infected with alpha were 73 per cent less likely to infect unvaccinated people.
    What is important to realise, de Gier says, is that the full effect of vaccines on reducing transmission is even higher than 63 per cent, because most vaccinated people don’t become infected in the first place.
  • The idea that vaccines are no longer that effective against transmission may derive from news reports in July claiming that vaccinated people who become infected “can carry as much virus as others”. Even if this were true, however, vaccines would still greatly reduce transmission by reducing infections in the first place.
    In fact, the study that sparked the news reports didn’t measure the number of viruses in someone directly but relied on so-called Ct scores, a measure of viral RNA. However, this RNA can derive from viruses destroyed by the immune system. “You can measure the RNA but it’s rendered useless,” says Timothy Peto at the University of Oxford.

November 2021

  • “The U.S. made a deal that was extraordinarily beneficial to Moderna and also beneficial to the United States," said Lawrence Gostin, a global health law professor at Georgetown University who has advised the World Health Organization and other international organizations on the Covid-19 response. "But it negotiated a horrific deal for the world that in fact impeded the world’s ability to respond and end the pandemic.”
    Indeed, federal officials were so focused at the time on stockpiling vaccines to combat the pandemic at home that there was relatively little thought given to the global reverberations, according to a dozen current and former officials and others with knowledge of the process who spoke with POLITICO for this article.
    “We were 100 percent focused on U.S.” acknowledged one of the people, an official on the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.
  • “Nine out of 10 Moderna doses have gone to rich countries,” said Robbie Silverman, the senior manager of private-sector advocacy at global justice organization Oxfam America. “Even among a set of bad actors in terms of vaccinating the world, Moderna stands out.”
  • Saying the surge was "worrying," Wenseleers said he believed low vaccine uptake and high vaccine hesitancy were largely to blame.
    "It’s not due to lack of vaccines," he said, noting that the joint procurement of vaccines at the European Union level meant all 27 member states "were able to buy equivalent quantities of vaccines."
    "Despite having access to vaccines, those countries did not manage to convince their population to get vaccinated," he said.
  • Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said that as the first winter with the delta variant approaches, he was "not sure if people in Eastern Europe appreciate how punishing the pandemic continues to be in the time of delta."
    "It’s unremitting," he said. With some Eastern European countries "at the extreme end of vaccine hesitancy," he added, "there’s no possibility of dealing with this pandemic under these conditions."
  • Despite the repeated warnings of health leaders, our failure to put vaccines into the arms of people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us. We were forewarned – and yet here we are.
    In the absence of mass vaccination, Covid is not only spreading uninhibited among unprotected people but is mutating, with new variants emerging out of the poorest countries and now threatening to unleash themselves on even fully vaccinated people in the richest countries of the world.
  • Many of the world's richest countries have spent the past year hoarding coronavirus vaccines, buying up enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times over and consistently failing to deliver on their promises to share doses with the developing world. The World Health Organization said the approach was "self-defeating" and "immoral."
  • Dr. Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, said the reaction of the rich world to the news that South African scientists discovered a new variant was an example of its own selfishness.
    "What I found disgusting and really distressing ... was not just the travel ban being implemented by the UK and Europe but that that was the only reaction, or the strongest reaction.
    "There was no word of support that they're going to offer to African countries to help us control the pandemic and particularly no mention of addressing this vaccine inequity that we have been warning about all year and [of which] we are now seeing the consequences play out," he told CNN.

December 2021

 
I think that there's been some red herrings in terms of what the issues are. For example, we keep hearing about technology transfer and giving these countries the ability to make their own vaccines, and yet the expertise needed to make these vaccines is really at a premium. It's very difficult to find people who know how to do this. So, it's not enough to transfer technology to a low-income country if you don't provide the expertise to make these vaccines. It's not as simple as making chicken soup. ~ Michael Osterholm
  • People who have not been vaccinated, or actively resist vaccines, tend to be poorer and less well-educated than those who have, Mr. Stott said. Many already distrust the government. Forcing their compliance by sequestering them at home or depriving them of access to bars and restaurants is only likely to deepen their sense of grievance, he said.
  • Ulrich Wagner, a professor of social psychology at the University of Marburg, argued that, paradoxically, a law forcing vaccinations could end up shaking people out of their opposition to them.
    “Mandatory vaccination is a clear prescription and from a psychological point of view, it makes it easier to be brought around,” Professor Wagner said.
  • When we first investigated the Covid-19 vaccines, we had to prioritize the assessment of the safety of the vaccines, which was done well. But we never really understood how to best use the vaccine in terms of number of doses, dose spacing, even the dose amount to maximize our immune response both for the short and long-term. We know that oftentimes the best immune response occurs when you have an extended period between the doses; in other words, allowing the immune system to basically recover and be capable of this enhanced response with the next dose. Look at how many vaccine schedules we have where that's the case.
  • We already had a history suggesting that immunity from a coronavirus infection may be short-lived. So, I was concerned that we had concluded that we do only need two doses, with the mRNA vaccines, and we're done.
    When we started seeing breakthrough infections in midsummer, often six months or more from their second dose, I was initially very concerned about waning immunity. In fact, I repeatedly addressed this issue in my public statements about the remarkable success of the vaccines. I called these breakthrough infections "the future of Covid-19."
    Subsequently, the Israeli data, which was collected because of Israel's unique national health system, was clear and compelling in its findings that waning immunity does occur at six to seven months out, and that we do need that third dose -- and not as a luxury dose, but the third dose of a three-dose prime series. It should have been three doses all along.
  • BERGEN: Two percent of the population of low-income countries has had one shot versus 65% for high income countries. does that portend for the future?
OSTERHOLM: Two things: One is that this pandemic has really provided a window into our global vaccine capacity in a way nothing else has ever done before.
I think that there's been some red herrings in terms of what the issues are. For example, we keep hearing about technology transfer and giving these countries the ability to make their own vaccines, and yet the expertise needed to make these vaccines is really at a premium. It's very difficult to find people who know how to do this. So, it's not enough to transfer technology to a low-income country if you don't provide the expertise to make these vaccines. It's not as simple as making chicken soup.

2022

January 2022

 
I think the main takeaway is really focusing on speed and not just coverage. The emphasis that we had on getting the vaccines out fast ... was the right impulse. ~ Meagan Fitzpatrick
  • The Commonwealth study wasn’t peer-reviewed, but it builds on a methodology that was. In a paper published this month in the journal JAMA Network Open, several of the same researchers estimated that Covid-19 vaccines averted more than 240,000 deaths between December 12, 2020, and June 30, 2021, before the worst of the delta variant ignited in the US.
    In that same six-month window, vaccines were estimated to have prevented 1.1 million hospitalizations and halted 14 million infections, showing that more than 338 million doses had a powerful effect. “It was larger than we would’ve expected,” said coauthor Meagan Fitzpatrick, an infectious disease modeler at the University of Maryland.
  • “Not only did our vaccination program really suppress the ongoing surge ... but it also helped avoid a later spring wave that would have happened with variant emergence,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think the main takeaway is really focusing on speed and not just coverage. The emphasis that we had on getting the vaccines out fast ... was the right impulse.”
  • Sumedha Gupta, a health policy economist at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis, created a model that used the varying vaccination rates between states as a natural experiment. Gupta and her team found that by May 9, 2021 — less than six months into the vaccination effort — vaccines had already prevented 140,000 people from dying.
    Gupta found that the most vulnerable groups benefited the most: the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with preexisting health conditions. But the Covid-19 vaccines also had knock-on impacts because they slowed the transmission of the virus, which helped protect unvaccinated people too.
    They were also an immense bargain. The US government spent upward of $40 billion to develop Covid-19 vaccines, but Gupta estimated their value in terms of lives saved — just a few months into the campaign — at as much as $1.4 trillion.
  • Without these so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions, the shortcomings of the vaccination program have become more apparent as new variants have emerged. “It really was a problem of too much hubris, that [many believed] vaccines would be the only thing we needed,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s not ‘either/or,’ it’s ‘both-and.’”

March 2022

  • Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said he plans to seek a second booster for his mother, who is in her mid-80s.
    "But for healthy 50-year-olds, that probably isn't as important if they've gotten three shots because three shots is really the sweet spot," Chin-Hong said. "You give a one-two punch and then you wait a little bit, and then you give a booster to remind the system."
    Still, Chin-Hong added, if a healthy 50-year-old is eager for a fourth shot, any potential risks of getting another dose are extremely low.
    "There's a theoretical negative. We've talked theoretically about immune exhaustion phenomenon, where the immune system just sees too much vaccine over and over and it just stops reacting," Chin-Hong said. "But again, that's just theoretical."

June 2022

  • So, one of the dynamics here is that people feel, after vaccination and boosting, that they're more protected than they actually are, so they increase their risks. That, I think, is the major driver of these statistics.

July 2022

  • In the first year of rollouts, COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have saved 19.8 million lives. Through unprecedently large and rapid rollouts worldwide, over 12 billion doses have been administered globally, in nearly every country in the world, resulting in countries reaching 60% of their populations on average.
    Yet only 28% of older populations and 37% of health care workers in low-income countries have been vaccinated with their primary series. 27 of WHO's Member States have not yet started a booster or additional dose program, 11 of which are low-income countries.
    The strategy aims to use primary and booster doses to reduce deaths and severe disease, in order to protect health systems, societies and economies. On the way to reaching the 70% vaccination target, countries should prioritize achieving the underpinning targets of vaccinating 100% of health care workers and 100% of the most vulnerable groups, including older populations (over 60s) and those who are immunocompromised or have underlying conditions.
    “Even where 70% vaccination coverage is achieved, if significant numbers of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups remain unvaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure and the global recovery will be at risk,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Vaccinating all those most at risk is the single best way to save lives, protect health systems and keep societies and economies open.”
  • Current vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness and death, which they have succeeded in doing, saving millions of lives. However, they have not substantially reduced transmission. As the virus continues to circulate widely, new and dangerous variants are emerging, including some which reduce the efficacy of vaccines. It is fundamental to continue investing in research and development to make more effective, easier to administer vaccines, such as nasal spray products.

See also

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