And how about some good news while we put out fires. Vaccine update.
“Natural” herd immunity is just not going to cut it. Sweden, that had no shut-downs in hopes to reach herd immunity, has only reached 7%, and they have one of the highest death rates in Europe. A similar study was done in NY. As a reminder, we need to reach 60% herd immunity. Vaccines will help with this.
Currently, there are 140 COVID19 vaccines being tested across the globe. The majority are in the “pre-clinical phase”, meaning they are being tested on animals. But there are 23 that have passed the pre-clinical phase (thanks to our knowledge of SARS and MERS) and are being tested on humans: 11 in Phase I (to test safety and dosage), 8 in phase II (test safety among a larger group), and 3 in Phase III (large scale efficacy).
I’ve been giving updates on Moderna, a vaccine that the NIH is supporting (Seattle and Emory). But there are two other vaccines that look promising… 1) AstraZeneca (Oxford, UK); and, 2) Sinopharm (China).
Interestingly, the three front runners are actually three DIFFERENT types of vaccines. Moderna is an RNA vaccine, basically implanting instructions into cells on how to destroy COVID9. This is a new approach and has NEVER been accepted by the FDA. If it does, this will be a big leap in science. Oxford is using a part of a live virus to engage the immune system. Sinopharm is using a whole virus to engage the immune system.
All three of these are STARTING Phase III. In fact, Oxford started Phase III two days ago. The purpose of Phase III is to test the effectiveness in preventing COVID19 among health adults now that they have been proven to be safe for humans. This is the last step until approval for distribution. Unfortunately, 42% of vaccines fail in Phase III.
While this seems like a horse race, we need to cheer on all three to cross the finish line. In fact, some manufacturers and investors have already put bets on which ones will finish, as they have already started mass developing the vaccine in the hopes that it will pass Phase III. This is the ONLY way we could manufacture and distribute enough vaccines in 2021.
Love, your local epidemiologist