Saturday, December 12, 2020

Stopping the next Virus before it Starts

 While some people fear the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been rushed to the market and perhaps developed too quickly, it's important to know they were basically designed by mid-January, a little more than a month after the first infection was identified in Wuhan. That's the way that immunology, virology, and medical research works. And we must remember that reality and use that model to plan for the next outbreaks long before they ever happen. That means like right now. 

Basically, we benefited from the research which was begun back in the early 2000s in response to the SARS and MERS outbreaks, which were also coronaviruses, or of a similar background. Unlike the yearly flu vaccines the medical community develops in response to different influenza strains that arise each year, the Covid antidotes don't use weakened or dead viruses but instead rely on the genetic sequence and train our bodies to recognize and nullify the virus whenever encountered. 

And with that concept, the medical community led by the CDC, NIH, and WHO must invest in research to predict future threats and develop vaccines that can be adapted for whatever virus arises. That sort of planning and preparation will of course require coordinated national and international response teams funded by governments, foundations, and pharmaceutical companies. For that to happen we need strong leadership and trust in the medical community. Let's hope that happens.

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