vaccine

Two earlier posts in this series explored what is a virus and what is a vaccine as well as the types of vaccines under development. As with the type of vaccine, the type of virus is as important when developing a vaccine. You might ask: Why do we need a new flu shot every year? Why isn’t there a vaccine for HIV? How do these issues translate to the new COVID-19 vaccine? Excellent questions all, that are answered by understanding the differences between viruses. Influenza, the virus which causes the flu, has a genome made of eight independent segments. The eight segments in one strain of the flu can easily mix with the segments in other strains of the flu, creating what is called a “shift”...
Much like drugs, vaccine candidates that seem promising during laboratory research are assessed and validated based on their performance in clinical trials. In the U.S., making it to this step requires a trial sponsor to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA for review. 6 This application most commonly highlights technical data on immunogenicity — the ability to elicit a targeted immune response —, the mechanism of action from animal testing, and importantly, the resources needed for scaling up production. 6 In a recent vaccine-development-focused installment of the popular American Public Health Association and National Academy of Medicine’s webinar series, COVID-...
What is a Virus? Viruses are tiny parasites that can cause disease. 1 While there are many types of viruses, they all contain genetic material, known as the viral genome, and a surrounding shell made of proteins and lipids. The SARS-CoV2 virus, responsible for COVID-19, is about 125 nm wide, 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. 2 SARS-CoV2 is an RNA virus, meaning that the internal genetic material is single-stranded RNA. This RNA is packaged inside of the virus with the “N” protein while the “S”, “E”, and “M” proteins are components in the outer lipid shell. The “S” protein is the one that sticks out from the virus giving the appearance of a crown. The Latin word for crown...
As scientists work towards a COVID-19 vaccine, they are faced with the decision of which type of vaccine to choose. Here, we review the different types of vaccines, how they work, some examples, and current COVID-19 trials in each category. For additional information on the science behind vaccine approaches for covid-19, take a look at Research!America’s COVID-19: By the Science infographic. Live-attenuated vaccines Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the germ (bacteria or virus) that causes the disease. Scientists weaken the germ by altering its genetic code to prevent the germ from rapidly replicating in human cells. This weakened form can no longer cause the disease, but the...
When planning began for the 2020 Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 had yet to emerge. Since then, the world has changed dramatically. There have been more than 1.8 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone since December 2019, with nearly 1,000 new deaths reported each day. COVID-19 has devastated economies across the globe, and here in the U.S., more than 36 million individuals have lost their jobs. Lives have been disrupted, and cultures have had to adapt. Meetings, weddings, and graduation ceremonies are now held virtually...
Dear Research Advocate, The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 100,000 lives. If anything other than tragedy and destruction lies in the wake of COVID-19, let it be the courage to see, clearly, the world we live in now. Our nation is ill-equipped for crises, ill-equipped for economic competitiveness, and under-resourced to speed progress against other health threats that kill just as surely, if not as rapidly, as COVID-19. Ignoring the pandemic’s message is all too tempting. Let’s not succumb to it. As National Academy of Sciences President Dr. Marcia McNutt advises, we must learn from the pandemic and “build back better”. Speaking of building back better, this Washington Post...
Dear Research Advocate, “Hopefully, the urgency that everyone is seeing around COVID-19 will translate into bigger investments for global health vaccines.” — Dr. Peter Hotez Renowned vaccinologist and prolific author Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, joined us yesterday for an alliance member call. Dr. Hotez spoke about the history of life-saving vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine development, and the alarming spread of the novel coronavirus across the southern hemisphere. He also spoke about the anti-science and anti-vaccine movements in our country and...
Dear Research Advocate, “We are in the profession that aims to come up with answers. We have a mission and a noble one. I often like to point out while our initials are NIH….in circumstances like this we’re the National Institutes of Hope. While fear, anxiety, and stress are all around us, hope can be contagious.” —Francis Collins, MD, PhD Earlier today, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), joined us on our alliance member call to provide an overview of NIH’s unprecedented Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) , a partnership between industry and governmental leaders working to speed COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Dr...
As part of ongoing work to keep a finger of the pulse of public opinion, Research!America has commissioned numerous questions over the years to determine what Americans know about vaccines and immunization as well as how they feel about vaccines and vaccine safety. The findings reveal a decidedly negative shift over the last decade in Americans’ attitudes towards vaccines. While this public opinion research predates the novel coronavirus pandemic, it certainly suggests that deploying effective strategies to improve the public’s confidence in vaccines must occur now and not wait until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Our national survey commissioned in January 2020 shows that respondents...
Dear Research Advocate, Jumping right in: Funding, Current and Future : Democratic Leaders in the House are focusing on the Moving Forward Framework , an infrastructure investment blueprint they originally released in January 2020, as the foundation for a fourth, $2 trillion supplemental. As it stands, both House Republicans and the Senate seem reluctant to pass another supplemental; nonetheless, the prospects for an infrastructure-focused stimulus are strong. We have heard that Congress and the administration may opt to roll FY21 funding into the aforementioned infrastructure supplemental rather than go the well-worn (and progress-stifling) “Continuing Resolution” route. While at this...

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We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America