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Can This Houston-Born COVID Vaccine Save the Developing World? – Texas monthly


When 92 guests gathered for a recent Houston wedding, they thought they were doing everything right. The happy couple asked everyone who wanted to go to be vaccinated against COVID-19. People who arrived from overseas tested negatively before boarding international flights. The wedding took place outside, where the coronavirus novel transmission is far less likely. And 92 guests isn’t exactly great, in terms of weddings.

But in one week, six of those invited — two vaccinated with Pfizer, two vaccinated with Moderna, and two, from India, vaccinated with Covaxin-test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A month later, one of them died.

Until recently, COVID-19 infections have been steadily declining in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. But Delta, the most contagious variant of the coronavirus yet — one that appears to cause a significant number of “breakthrough” infections in vaccinated people — has begun to reverse this trend, causing the first uptick in Texas infection in months. After declining to a small number of 1,428 COVID hospitals statewide on June 27, the numbers have risen to 2,519 hospitalizations as of July 14 and are continuing the upward trend, according to Texas Department of Health and Human Services. The test positivity rate was similarly starting to climb, rising above 5 percent for the first time since February.

As Delta, which was first identified in India last December, and other potential global variants threaten to defeat our nation’s progress in stamping out infections, it becomes increasingly apparent that Texans will only be safe against COVID-19 when the world — not just the US. —Se ase vaksinen.

A pair of dedicated Texas researchers are ready to play an important part in making this happen. Dr. Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi, co-directors of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development in Houston, helped develop a COVID-19 vaccine that is likely to become one of the cheapest and most accessible vaccines in the world. . It has just entered phase three clinical trials in India, and could prove vital in low-income countries that cannot afford to buy or manufacture sort of vaccines that are widely available in the United States.

Hotez, also the dean, said: “Currently, nobody in Africa is vaccinated, and not many others in Latin America or Southeast Asia, because we don’t have a scale-up vaccine for low- and middle-income countries. ” National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “We hope this one will fill that gap. We think it will be the real, really low-shot person of people who could be used to vaccinate the world.”

What makes the shots, Corbevax, so special is that, well, it’s there pa that’s special. Instead of relying on newer — and more expensive — technologies, such as mRNA (as in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) or vector adenovirus (the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines), Corbevax is a more conventional recombinant protein vaccine. It is similar to the hepatitis B vaccine and others that have been used for decades. But testing so far suggests that Corbevax is about as effective as its newer, fancier counterparts, and a efficiency more than 85 percent.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 280 vaccine candidates are in development, and more than 100 of those are in clinical trials. Normally that might seem to be an overcrowded field, but that’s not the case when we’re fighting a virus that caused a global pandemic and continued mutations into a more formidable enemy.

“While the development, approval, and deployment of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 less than a year after the first reported cases is a stunning achievement, and a much-needed source of hope for bringing the pandemic under control, the development COVID-19 vaccine candidate must continue, “WHO spokesman Andrei Muchnik said Texas monthly. “The world needs multiple vaccines that work in different populations, are made by multiple manufacturers, and are optimized for delivery in a range of environments to meet global demand.”

The key challenges to meeting this demand, Muchnik says, include “insufficient manufacturing capacity, reluctance on the part of developers to share their formulas and knowledge, and hoarding by rich countries” – all issues that Corbevax could help overcome. Unlike many existing patent-pending intellectual property vaccines, Corbevax will be made freely available to anyone who manufactures.

In addition, using a traditional, try-and-true vaccine design, such as the Corbevax, offers the benefit of newer vaccine technology by doing so. Those starting with were cheap and fast to make.

“We have several issues with vaccines,” says Dr. Gregory Poland, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, who specializes in vaccines and serves as editor of the medical journal Vaccine. “There aren’t enough, and they are too expensive, so that’s it [vaccine] important because until the world is protected, nobody is really protected. Not only does the globe need 14 billion doses of vaccine — plus any booster — but it also needs to be in people’s arms before the virus mutates beyond what these vaccines can protect against.

“Delta variant could become Variant X and evade completely, or in large part, our vaccine-induced immunity, and we go back to the beginning,” Poland says.

Corbevax is expected to cost only about $ 1.50 per dose, since its supplies are cheap and easy to obtain. Another advantage of Corbevax is its familiarity, for those who are still uncomfortable about newer vaccine technology or side effects. Recombinant protein vaccine causes far less reaction and have proven safe for young children and pregnant women for many years. (The hepatitis B vaccine contains less side effects of almost any vaccine regularly recommended.)

“This can also help with reducing a little of the hesitation and increasing confidence in shots,” Bottazzi says.

Perhaps more important, however, is that any country with existing vaccine-manufacturing facilities can easily make, transport, and store Corbevax. There is no need to build new factories, since this type of vaccine is so similar to others that countries around the world already produce. The vaccine needs only basic refrigeration — no ultra-freezing storage conditions — so there’s less risk of it spoiling in areas without reliable electricity or infrastructure.

Corbevax is currently being tested on about 1,200 healthy adults in India. The vaccine was co-developed with Hyderabad, India-based Biological E. Limited and US-based Dynavax technology. Phase one and two trials have already shown that the vaccine is contained some side effects and elicited a strong immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In April, the Biden administration announced it would fund expansion of BioE manufacturing capacity to ensure that the company can produce at least one billion doses of vaccine before the end of 2022.

Still, Hotez wants a bigger commitment than that. With more government support or a partnership with a major pharmaceutical company, it is estimated the U.S. could produce a couple hundred million doses of Corbevax each month and export these across the globe.

“It’s the humanitarian thing to do, because this virus, as it continues to mutate into variants, will become more aggressive, and pretty much anyone who isn’t vaccinated at the end of the year or early next year will be infected with COVID- 19, “Hotez di. “The death toll will be staggering. And, remember, it’s not just the death toll, it’s the long haul covid that nobody talks about, ”and millions suffer long-term neurological and cardiovascular disabilities.

Manufacturing and exporting COVID-19 vaccines to the world is also in our “enlightened self-interest,” Hotez says. “Other than preventing new variants from emerging and coming to the U.S., it’s the fact that, especially here in Texas, the oil and gas industry and our finance industry depend on a well-functioning global economy. doing business with Africa, Latin America, or Southeast Asia will really limit you. ”

While vaccines Hotez and Bottazzi did not begin clinical trials as fast as the vaccines already authorized by the FDA, the two still developed it in near-record time because they had a head start-start with the vaccines have been developed for the first SARS virus a decade earlier.

Hotez says: “During this ten-year period, we learned how to make modifications to that molecule.” “Even though we are injured by the use of the SARS-1 vaccine for SARS-2, all the approaches that we use for SARS-1 work for SARS-2, and that allow us to move really fast.”

That doesn’t mean it was easy. In the first months of development, the lab required special permission to allow scientists to work during the COVID blockade. At the same time, funding was obtained to supplement the limited amount received from the National Institutes of Health. “We’ve always been the underdogs,” Bottazzi says. “Not just our group, but we’re all working in conventional technology.”

Of the five companies that received vaccine funding from the federal government’s speed chain operations, only two –Novavax and a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi — using traditional vaccine technologies.

Hotez says: “Everyone was so in love with mRNA technology that it was really hard to get money.” “If we hadn’t moved to Texas ten years ago, we wouldn’t have a COVID-19 vaccine.” He was referring to the support they received from Texas Children’s and Baylor, which supported their lab work on SARS-1 even when “nobody cared for coronavirus,” Bottazzi says. But Hotez adds that other important support has come from Texas philanthropic donors, including the Kleberg Foundation, the John S. Dunn Foundation, the MD Anderson Foundation, Tito’s Vodka, and others.

“That’s what makes it possible,” Hotez says. “This is truly a Texas shot.”

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