Corona Virus Vaccine? Possibly A Dream

covid exponential growth

I was listening to Thom Hartmann Thursday and he said something that really caught my attention. He simply said that based on our experience with SARS and MERS and other corona viruses, we should not expect there to be a vaccine for the Covid-19 form of the corona virus.

As far as he knows there have so far been no vaccines for the other manifestations of the corona virus. Then why should we expect there to be vaccine for the Covid-19? For that matter, we have never conquered what is considered the common cold which is also a corona virus.

Looking into this I found a couple of websites that may be of interest. The first is the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) website. The entry is very short. It includes a brief synopsis of the history of corona viruses and where we are now:   

There are hundreds of coronaviruses, most of which circulate among such animals as pigs, camels, bats and cats. Sometimes those viruses jump to humans—called a spillover event—and can cause disease. Four of the seven known coronaviruses that sicken people cause only mild to moderate disease. Three can cause more serious, even fatal, disease. SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) emerged in November 2002 and caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). That virus disappeared by 2004. Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is caused by the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Transmitted from an animal reservoir in camels, MERS was identified in September 2012 and continues to cause sporadic and localized outbreaks. The third novel coronavirus to emerge in this century is called SARS-CoV-2. It causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which emerged from China in December 2019 and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.

Building on previous research on SARS and MERS, NIAID scientists and grantees are well positioned to rapidly develop COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. These projects include conducting basic research to understand how the virus infects cells and causes disease, and what interventions can prevent and stop the spread of disease.

In fact, within two weeks of the discovery of COVID-19, NIAID researchers had determined how the virus enters cells. And within two months sites had begun Phase 1 trials of a treatment (remdesivir) and a vaccine (mRNA-1273).
Why Are Coronaviruses a Priority for NIAID?

After SARS-CoV emerged from China in November 2002 it spread to 26 countries within a few months, largely by infected passengers who traveled. More than 8,000 people fell ill and 774 died. SARS drew the collective focus of researchers throughout the world. The disease disappeared in 2004, likely due to intensive contact tracing and case isolation measures. In September 2012, a new coronavirus was identified in the Middle East causing an illness similar to SARS. Again, researchers at NIAID and across the globe initiated studies to understand MERS-CoV and how to stop it. Research efforts from those two outbreaks—including development of a DNA vaccine candidate for SARS by NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center—have prepared scientists to quickly assess the severity and transmission potential of SARS-CoV-2, and to develop countermeasures.

How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?

When MERS emerged in 2012 and COVID-19 was identified in 2020, NIAID intramural and extramural scientists mobilized quickly to study the viruses, efforts which continue today. Key areas of investigation include basic research on their origins, how they cause disease, and developing animal study models, new treatments, and vaccines.

Informative, but note there is no vaccine for anything.

Next we go to a website for a group called Precision Vaccinations. The story I read there on corona viruses contained a treasure trove of information on the progress some of the most promising candidates out there to confront Covid-19, the story did start with these sobering paragraphs:   

Coronaviruses without preventive vaccines are the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), and the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease in humans.

As of May 14, 2020, the U.S. FDA has not approved any preventive or therapeutic vaccines for use against the SARS, MERS, or SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses. However, over 300 clinical studies are seeking participants to evaluate vaccine candidates.

All I want to do here is remind folks that just because the current president and our governor claim things to be open again, you must be very, very careful about where you go and what you do. There is no magic bullet as yet and may never be. At best we may just have to incorporate behaviors into our daily lives that keep us from getting infected.

As I write this, due to the disastrous leadership of the president, we are approaching 90,000 deaths due to this virus. By Memorial Day we will probably be close to or over 100,000 dead. For comparison, The US lost a little over 400,000 in WWII. We have lost nearly a quarter of that in less than 3 months.

And remember, the infection you spread could kill your grandmother, or mother, or child. So let’s pull together and work toward the goal we all want – to defeat the corona virus.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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