Remarks: Tweleve to Eighteen months before a safe vaccine being in the market; Australian immunologist Professor Ian Frazer discusses our progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine, and how we can beat the current coronavirus pandemic without one. FULL STORY HERE: https://www.4cmitv.com/2020/04/20/2020-apr-20-can-we-beat-covid-19-without-a-vaccine-immunologist-professor-ian-frazer/
9 NOW HEADLINES: Renowned immunologist Professor Ian Frazer says coronavirus must ‘run its course’
Renowned immunologist Professor Ian Frazer says it could take a year for COVID-19 to run its course in Australia, and most Australians will be exposed to the newest coronavirus.
Professor Frazer told A Current Affair while the virus’ emergence in China didn’t surprise scientists, “it was one [virus] we’d have to learn about quickly”.
“In my lifetime, I can count seven new viruses that have arrived and we don’t have vaccines for most of them yet. This is quite a common event in human history, a plague if you like, of a new virus,” Professor Ian Frazer said.
Professor Frazer helped create the HPV vaccine that helps save millions of women from cervical cancer around the globe, and was named Australian of the Year in 2006.
Professor Ian Frazer helped create the HPV vaccine (A Current Affair)
He says many of us will contract a mild version of this coronavirus, but most of us will survive. He said if the hospital systems aren’t overloaded we should be able to save lives.
“This is a fairly infectious virus and I think it would be highly difficult to contain it even with all of the measures that we’re now putting in place in Australia,” he said
“This is not something to panic about, this is something to accept and get on with life and make sure we are ready for whatever happens. The good news is if we can slow the epidemic down with all this social distancing and hand washing,” the professor added.
Professor Frazer is an advisor on medical research at University of Queensland, where some of his colleagues are working on a vaccine for COVID-19.
The team working on the vaccine is currently at the stage of animal testing.
A coronavirus COVID-19 testing station in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak. (A Current Affair)
“We have to be realistic, even if the animal testing suggests that this is possibly an effective vaccine, it will take at least a year to get through all necessary steps from having a potential vaccine, working out how to scale up production of it, going to tests for safety in humans and eventually tests in the community to see if it’s effective,” he said.
He says conspiracy theories that suggest the virus was man made are not helpful.
“They are just wild theories, they have no grounding in fact,” he told A Current Affair.
“Coronavirus in humans come always from animals to start with,” he said. “SARS and MERS came from defined animals and this will have come from an animal as well. Probably a bat but we don’t know for certain.”
He urged people not to panic.
“We have to minimise the chances of the virus spreading quickly but accept that it is probably going to spread through the community in its entirety.”
He also urged Australians to follow government guidelines.
“I absolutely think what the government has introduced makes perfect sense,” he said
“The epidemic will probably run its course in a year. All the modelling suggests that’s what will happen.”
Coronavirus COVID-19 may escalate to a pandemic in the coming weeks. (A Current Affair)
Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 April - Time-stamped: Author: Sacha Passi | Article Title: Renowned immunologist Professor Ian Frazer says coronavirus must 'run its course' | Article Link: 9now.nine.com.au
ABC HEADLINES: We’ve never made a successful vaccine for a coronavirus before. This is why it’s so difficult https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2020-04-17/coronavirus-vaccine-ian-frazer/12146616 FriFriday 17 AprApril 2020 at 9:26am, updated FriFriday 17 AprApril 2020 at 11:17am ABC Health & Wellbeing / By Jo Khan for the Health Report
Developing a vaccine to target Sars-CoV-2 has a number of challenges.(National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, NIH)
For those pinning their hopes on a COVID-19 vaccine to return life to normal, an Australian expert in vaccine development has a reality check — it probably won’t happen soon.
The reality is that this particular coronavirus is posing challenges that scientists haven’t dealt with before, according to Ian Frazer from the University of Queensland.
Professor Frazer was involved in the successful development of the vaccine for the human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer — a vaccine which took years of work to develop.
He said the challenge is that coronaviruses have historically been hard to make safe vaccines for, partly because the virus infects the upper respiratory tract, which our immune system isn’t great at protecting.
And while we have vaccines for seasonal influenza, HPV and other diseases, creating a new vaccine isn’t as simple as taking an existing one and swapping the viruses, said Larisa Labzin, an immunologist from the University of Queensland.
“For each virus or different bacterium that causes a disease, we need a different vaccine because the immune response that’s mounted is different,” Dr Labzin told ABC Science.
“Just because we’ve got a really good vaccine against polio doesn’t mean the same thing will work with coronavirus, because it’s so different.”
The challenge of respiratory infections
There are several reasons why our upper respiratory tract is a hard area to target a vaccine.
“It’s a separate immune system, if you like, which isn’t easily accessible by vaccine technology,” Professor Frazer told the Health Report.
Despite your upper respiratory tract feeling very much like it’s inside your body, it’s effectively considered an external surface for the purposes of immunisation.
“It’s a bit like trying to get a vaccine to kill a virus on the surface of your skin.”
Professor Ian Frazer (right) worked on the HPV vaccine and thinks a coronavirus vaccine is unlikely anytime soon.(Supplied: European Inventor Award)
Your skin, and the outer layer of cells in your upper respiratory tract act as a barrier to viruses, stopping them getting into the body.
And finding a way to neutralise the virus “outside” of the body is very difficult.
This is partly because only the outer layer of cells (the epthelial cells) get infected, which, compared to a severe infection of internal organs doesn’t produce the same immune response, so is harder to target.
It’s hard to produce a successful vaccine if the virus isn’t activating a strong immune response.
And if a vaccine elicits an immune response that misses the target cells, the result could potentially be worse than if no vaccine was given.
“One of the problems with corona vaccines in the past has been that when the immune response does cross over to where the virus-infected cells are it actually increases the pathology rather than reducing it,” Professor Frazer said.
“So that immunisation with SARS corona vaccine caused, in animals, inflammation in the lungs which wouldn’t otherwise have been there if the vaccine hadn’t been given.”
What’s the story with antibodies?
Antibodies are proteins that are released by the immune system to neutralise a threat, like a virus.
We’ve so far found with coronavirus that those infected have had different antibody responses, some weak, some strong.
The ABC has received many questions around how long immunity lasts and whether someone can be reinfected.
So is antibody response critical to whether or not a vaccine is going to work?
To answer this we have to go back to what we know about coronaviruses that cause the common cold, according to Professor Frazer.
“Yes, you get antibodies after a [cold] infection, and yes it lasts for a while, but it’s not lifelong… sort of months rather than years,” he said.
“I think it would be fair to say that the natural immunity that you get after infection from this coronavirus is probably going to turn out like the coronaviruses we’ve seen in the past.
“There will be some natural protection over a period of months, maybe even years, but it won’t be lifelong.
“The good news is that if you get reinfected with the virus a second time some months down the track, there will probably be enough immunity there to stop you becoming seriously ill.”
What are the vaccine options?
At the moment, teams around the world are deploying different technologies in vaccine development, from killing the virus and using it in the vaccine like we do with influenza, to using messenger RNA to prompt the infected cells to produce antibodies.
But the reality of vaccine development is that many fail before a successful one is developed.
The ‘spike’ protein sticks out of the coronavirus shell, and could be used in some vaccines to trick the body into shutting out the virus.(NIH)
Professor Frazer’s prediction is that the most likely candidate will be a vaccine that uses a part of the virus attached to a chemical to induce an immune response, or “subunit” vaccine.
“That [vaccine type] has been successful in animal models for coronaviruses in the past and that is of course where the money is being put in large measure at the moment,” he said.
“Another sort of vaccine would be just antibody transferred from somebody who had been infected already and had got rid of the infection.
“Which would be an immunological means of preventing infection, and could probably be more quickly developed than an actual vaccine.”
This sort of vaccine was tested with SARS in 2003 and resulted in reinfected lab monkeys having a nasty immune response, which is why many groups working on a vaccine for Sars-CoV-2 are going for a very specific antibody response.
Professor Frazer said the narrow, targeted approach is fine, unless you pick the wrong specific antigen — the substance that stimulates an immune response which antibodies bind to — in which case you could end up with the same problem.
Will we ever get a vaccine?
We don’t yet have vaccines against any coronaviruses in humans, in part due to the challenges of developing vaccines for viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract.
There are a lot of vaccine experiments going on around the world at the moment trying to change that though, including some in human trials.
While this gives us the best possible chance of getting a successful vaccine, it also highlights that there isn’t an obvious winner yet, said Professor Frazer.
“I think it would be fair to say even if we get something which looked quite encouraging in animals, the safety trials in humans will have to be fairly extensive before we would think about vaccinating a group of people who have not yet been exposed to the virus.
“They might hope to get protection but certainly wouldn’t be keen to accept a possibility of really serious side effects if they actually caught the virus.”
How fast is coronavirus growing around the world?
Cumulative known casessince 100th case
Days since 100th case
Data sources: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Our World in Data, The COVID Tracking Project, ABC
Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 April 17 | Date-stamped: 11:17am | Author: Jo Khan | Article Title: We've never made a successful vaccine for a coronavirus before. This is why it's so difficult | Article Link: abc.net.au
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Original-Source: Nine News Australia
Original-Source-Published: Apr 20, 2020
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