TrialSite has reported that the two approved COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. (Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech) lose some of their effectiveness against the South African SARS-CoV-2 mutant variant (B.1.351) and possibly even more so against the Brazilian variant. B.1.351 is now circulating in the United States. Novavax reported recently that while its vaccine was 90% effective in UK-based patients at stopping COVID-19, that figure markedly dropped to 49% in South Africa. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson recently reported while its single jab inoculation was 72% effective at stopping moderate and severe cases of SARS-CoV-2 in America it was only 57% in South Africa. Moreover, recent tests in lab environments suggest that currently emergency authorized vaccines in America are less able to trigger potent immune responses targeting B.1.351. The mounting evidence is unfortunate but expected: these emerging mutants could be less vulnerable to the existing vaccines meaning a whole booster program is now in order to keep vaccination up with mutating strains of SARS-CoV-2.
A Scary Validation
Emily Baumgaertner writing or the Los Angeles Times served to educate the public of this growing menace. According to Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina, this was to be expected, “But it never feels good to be validated on something so scary.” Ms. Baumgaertner reports that the pathogen evolves quickly due to its “unchecked spread” around the world. With over 100 million infected worldwide the virus now has rich, fertile conditions for mutation opportunity. Why mutate? Because the virus ‘seeks to survive and for that it needs advantage, that is “the ability to resist the body’s natural defenses,” which according to the LA Times writer “can become a basis for a heartier variant.”
Criminals Morph their Appearance
Now scientists fret that if the coronavirus variants’ spike protein morph the existing crop of vaccines would be far less potent; after all, these vaccines were trained to identify and respond to this protein on the surface of the virus. The more the spike protein crowns change the more likely the virus will elude detection while entering the body.
Harvard’s Dr. Mina suggests this process is like identifying a criminal by identifying and memorizing particular facial elements, such as the nose and mouth. This may be adequate for a while but what if the criminal changes his/her appearance, gets a nose job or some other plastic surgery? Ms. Baumgaertner shares that investigators would have certainly liked to have learned about the culprit’s “eyes, ears and hair as well.”
Vaccine Paradigm: Global Collaboration Key
All of this means that authorities need a more agile, coordinated approach to taking on COVID-19. Fragmented efforts on a country by country basis really doesn’t cut it. The new “nationalism” that emerged in recent years could be the downfall of humanity for those that ascribe to this hypothesis. It was apparent early on to TrialSite that a form of nationalism was at work with China, for example, based on jingoistic terms coming out of the press there. But this phenomena possibly was incited by the previous U.S. POTUS as that election was the result of an increasingly pessimistic populist base as to the benefits of globalism.
Russia clearly used its Sputnik V as a national business development vehicle as did multiple Chinese companies, some state owned. American and European firms are less concerned about nationalism as they are maximizing shareholders at the expense of other competitors. In the meantime billions of taxpayer dollars were doled out.
Now with variants growing new forms of concerted collaboration and coordination must emerge from more synchronized responses to not only more effectively identify variants but also responses in concern with advanced vaccines, boosters, etc.
Boosters in the Works
The LA Times reports that Moderna is developing a booster shot to complement its current two shot inoculation to take on the South African B.1.351. After all, that mutant is now circulating around America. And BioNTech, Pfizer’s German partner, is also contemplating an adjusted vaccine.
A Wake Up Call
In the meantime, NIAID’s director Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged recently that the mutant strains are spreading around America and emphasized the “wake up call” underscoring the need for rapid vaccination of people in America. Fauci suggested Vaccinating as many people as we can, as quickly as we can” can help mitigate the risk because “Viruses cannot mutate if they cannot replicate.”
Vaccine Production Problems
But despite enormous outlay of taxpayer monies to vaccine makers one problem after the next is reported causing shortages and delays in vaccine supply. See “We are all in Big Trouble.” While the pharma companies were quite publicly confident when the Operation Warp Speed funds were doled out, they are now making moves to deliver on their contractual obligations. Pfizer has announced partnerships with Sanofi and Novartis and recently TrialSite made a number of other suggestions—hopefully someone will read them.
Call to Action: Follow the link to source to read Ms. Baumgaertner’s important article in the LA Times.