Health

UWI professor clarifies why COVID-19 immunizations were approved rapidly

With developing incredulity about the quick endorsement of COVID-19 antibodies, Immunologist and Chairman of the University of the West Indies (UWI) COVID-19 team, Professor Clive Landis, has moved to clarify the rationale for the speed at which the immunizations are being affirmed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna antibodies, bringing about the launch of vaccine programs in the United States and parts of Europe.

In any case, with the presentation of the COVID-19 antibodies, correlations have emerged with respect to the time span it took for past immunizations took to be created.

Talking at an introduction on immunizations and resistance during a badvice-chancellor’s forum on COVID-19 vaccinations hosted by the UWI COVID-19 Task Force on Friday, Landis said the antibody creation process for the current virus was not the same as with the past immunizations.

This, he stated, was on the grounds that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) gave the opportunity to be start work early on an effective vaccine.

“… and it should be noted that when people say ‘Gosh, these vaccines were created very quickly,’ well this is what these modern recombinant DNA and vaccines are able to do… They can move much more quickly because Oxford (University) had already made an antiviral vaccine against SARS in 2003; that’s the coronavirus from 2003. Then it made another vaccine from the coronavirus called MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2012,” he explained.

“So it was a very simple step when the sequence of this new coronavirus (called) COVID-19 was published on the ninth of January. It was just to take that sequence for the glycoprotein and just slot it in, and this is how they made their new vaccine so quickly,” Landis added.

He likewise clarified that the COVID-19 antibodies were “inherently safe” in light of the fact that “the original coronavirus, which has all the harmful bits, is no longer there. You only got the little spike you put into an empty vector virus.”

Then, Landis tried to explain questions encompassing why an immunization had not yet been created to battle the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), yet one had been endorsed for COVID-19.

“… and just in case anyone’s wondering, ‘So how come we were never able to make a vaccine against HIV,’ well my own feeling is that we may never be able to make one because HIV infects guess which cell? The CD4 T cell; the helper cell right at the heart of the immune response, which is needed to create a vaccine response against it. So, luckily, the coronavirus is not like that.

“(For) the coronavirus… we develop very good T cell responses to them, and most immunologist are very confident that the vaccines will be effective and, of course, in the publications we have seen all over the place we can maybe spot the one from 1953 as well.

“We have seen that these are very effective vaccines up to 90 per cent successful,” Landis stated.

As indicated by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, Jamaica is relied upon to get its first shipment of the COVID-19 immunization in the early part of the New Year.

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