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The Coronavirus Vaccine

SARS, MERS, Marburg and Ebola virus and a Hanta virus outbreak in China, remind us that the world can carry on without humans.

The vaccine for Covid-19, prepared and ready for testing in 42 days, was injected into human volunteers in Seattle, USA essentially a rapid response to the current pandemic. Vaccines are made from live weakened viruses or viral proteins cultured in HeLa cells/Avian egg cells. Covid-19 is an RNA virus whose code is simple to reproduce. The RNA code is inserted into human cells to replicate new corona viruses and thereby kill or incapacitate the human host. Host immune cells uptake the corona virus and alert the host immune cells to the presence of corona virus. CueVac, Germany is making batches of RNA, sufficient for many vaccine doses. An RNA vaccine for rabies is undergoing clinical trials. Inovio, a US biotechnology company is developing a DNA vaccine for Covid-19, the DNA generates viral RNA and viral proteins. The target proteins are the spikes which give the virus a crown like appearance under the electron microscope.

China released the entire RNA sequence of Covid-19 by early January with scientists worldwide copying the sequence to make vaccines. The virus uses the spike to attach the ACE2 receptor on cells in the mouth, throat, lungs and intestines. Antibodies and immune cells of a vaccinated individual are expected to notice the spike protein and neutralise the virus.

There are three phases of clinical trials: Phase I a small number of healthy adults are given the vaccine to ensure safety; Phase II trials test safety in a larger group and check for side effects; Phase III thousands of people are tested. All trials are controlled by the European Medicines Agency and the US FDA to decide if the vaccine can be licensed. These trials must be stringent because appropriate testing ensures confidence in the vaccine. Fortunately Sars-Cov-2 does not mutate due to its large genome, however UK, Brazilian and South African variants are proving highly contagious with larger numbers of cases arising daily.

Two vaccines are now approved by the European Medicines Agency: BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna the EU will receive 600 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine, Moderna will deliver 160 million doses in 2021. AstraZeneca applied for EMA authorisation January 12 which may be granted in January. Johnson and Johnson, a one dose vaccine could deliver 400 million doses by April. Sanofi-GSK - 300 million doses and CureVax - 400 million doses may follow. BioNTech-Pfizer an unfmiliiar technology based on storing at -70 degrees Celsius caused a delay in ordering. Denmark is the best performer in terms of vaccination with 2.25 of population given the vaccine; followed by Ireland at 1.6% and Italy at 1.5%. Can vaccinated people infect non-vaccinated people? Ireland must vaccinate 250,000 people weekly, requiring thousands of vavccinators, mass vaccination centres must be established. Red Cross, Order of Malta and others must play their part.

A warning: January 20, 2020 South Korea reported its first coronavirus case, January 31, 2020, Spain reported its first case on the Canary Islands, as at January 12, 2021, South Korea with c.50 million population, similar to Spain's 46 million had 1,140 deaths, Spain had 51,864 deaths. South Korea, tested, traced and contained the virus well before it went out of control!

The Covid-19 virus, 91 million cases and c.2 million deaths, is a warning, human lives will change, perhaps Marburg Virus cf. Marburg University, Marburg, Germany 1976 will adversely affect human existence on Earth.

Source: Irish Time, News Review, Saturday, January 16, 2021

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