Home / Health / Dr. Sanjay Gupta: ‘Race for the Vaccine’

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: ‘Race for the Vaccine’



Programming Notes: CNN Films’ Race for the Vaccine, produced and narrated by Chief Medical Reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta follows the discovery of a vaccine against COVID-19 that changed the world. Watch Saturday, May 15 at 9:00 p.m. ET.

This new advice is not only But only about the effectiveness of the vaccine But also the trust of the major medical and public health organizations placed They believe that when the story of this outbreak is finally written, it will be about the vaccine – and the science behind it – that will ultimately help us.

My colleagues at CNN and I have been watching vaccine development stories from the start. Over the past year, we have followed research teams across 5 continents, documenting their trials and tribulations, their victories, and devastating setbacks. We know how the story started with the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and we know how it ended with the most powerful vaccine in the history of the world.

Now, the behind-the-scenes story of this all-time race is being told for the first time in the documentary “Race for the Vaccine”

;, which will air tonight on CNN.

On January 10, 2020, researchers in China, where the first recorded cases of the abnormal pneumonia, revealed the full genetic sequence for the new coronavirus that appears to be behind this mysterious illness. This act, a simple post on a website used by virologists to share research and information, is like the initial gunfire and is heard by scientists around the world.

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In Australia, Keith Chappell and his team at the University of Queensland have started work to develop a tried and true protein vaccine. In the UK, Professor Teresa Lamb from the University of Oxford immediately began vaccinating the virus vector.In China, George Gao, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, directed his team to focus. Let’s go over what is considered one of the oldest immunization technologies – the inactive vaccine.

And two teams – one in the United States at the National Institutes of Health and the other in Germany at a small company called BioNTech – place bets. all-or-nothing In a way that few have ever heard of. In the scientific community: messenger RNA.

When we started shooting this documentary we didn’t know how long the competition would take or if there would be a winner. Keep in mind that before the outbreak in the United States, it often took more than a decade to create an FDA-approved vaccine. This documentary tells the life of a remarkable scientist who had to do whatever it takes to get these vaccines to their doorstep and beyond the finish line. Explain why certain games are being played and track how their options are resolved.

Vaccine born

Truth be told, all coronavirus vaccines started long before January 2020: so-called platforms – the underlying technology – all existed before the outbreak and all but the mRNA platform – had already been commercially available in the past. All vaccine manufacturers have the same goal: to create the best delivery system to stimulate the strongest immune response. It is the immune system response that prepares our body so that it can defend itself when the real virus is found later.
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That could mean using the whole virus or a weaker version. It could mean using only the virus fragment or just the blueprint of the virus fragment to teach the body to recognize the foreign body and then attack it.

If you’ve heard anything about the Covid-19 vaccine, you’ve probably heard the term spike protein.Think of them as tiny nudes that protrude from the surface of the corona virus and make them look like a crown or corona in the language. Latin as the origin of the viral name The spike protein is what the virus uses to attach and destroy into our cells, where it hijacks to replicate itself.

Virus vector vaccines such as Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), AstraZeneca / Oxford and Russia’s Sputnik V use another virus – in this case the common cold virus – to deliver instructions to make a protein block, which our cells will render. Their surface triggers an immune response.

Protein subunits such as Novavax and Sanofi use genetically engineered insect viruses to infect moths, where those cells produce fragments of the spike protein corona virus. These are harvested and vaccinated, which are then injected into humans.

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The earliest vaccine technology, using a whole-killing virus to stimulate the immune response, is the approach used by China’s Sinovac.

On the other side of the spectrum, the newest vaccine technology is the mRNA vaccine. This uses mRNA – messenger RNA – to guide our cells to form a fragment of the spike protein. Our cells then make that protein over and over again, which stimulates our immune system to respond. It’s a technology used by BioNTech, in collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Moderna, which works with scientists at NIH.

The story behind mRNA technology

Many people say mRNA technology is new, but that’s not entirely true. Although no mRNA drug or treatment has ever been approved by the FDA, the science behind the mRNA vaccine is based on a concept developed 20 years ago by Dr. Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó, both at the University of Payne. For the past 20 years, the mRNA vaccine has been studied and tested for conditions such as the Zika flu and rabies to name some.

“DNA is the genetic code. It contains everything that fires our bodies and keeps our bodies working. What RNA does, RNA makes copies of genes, which genes typically encode proteins – so RNA makes a copy of one protein from DNA.” And put it to the machine in cells that break the protein from that RNA copy, ”Weissman explained to me in December.“ We’re using our bodies as our protein factory. ”
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Weissman said that even two decades they were thinking of using mRNA technology for vaccines, as well as protein therapy for gene editing and other applications.

Among the early adapters in the study and using mRNA technology were the husband and wife team, Dr. UğurŞahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, when they first met, they were deeply connected to science, so they headed back to the room. Trial after marriage

“We have been working hands-on and seeing patients and patients being treated, and at the same time we are scientists and at the same time we are scientists and what we experience in life. The day as a cancer physician is, there isn’t much we can serve our patients in terms of the certified standard of care, ”inahin said in my podcast last March.

Yet, in the world of science, we find that there is a great deal of technology and knowledge to provide opportunities for better healing of patients. This gap and interest in translating science into survival is what we share and why. Sometimes we make decisions To travel together, ”he said.

The couple founded BioNTech in 2008, which at the time focused primarily on the use of new technologies in cancer treatment.

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But in 2020, the clouds started to gather on the horizon. Even as early as January But Şahin thought the situation could escalate into the epidemic, and he felt he and his wife had the tools to help. In March, BioNTech partnered with Pfizer, a company they have previously worked on with other projects.

The other team working on the mRNA vaccine Moderna is a start-up company that has never brought an FDA-approved product to the market. The companies called “Modified” and “RNA” worked with Dr. Barney Graham of NIH and Kizzmekia Corbett, immunologists.

Asked during an online interview on Wednesday if he felt pressure, Graham said the Vaccine Research Center, where he served as deputy director, had been pressured before, such as during the Ebola and Zika crisis. This project started before the outbreak, so in the early stages for us it was a demonstration project to prove how quickly we could go if demand arose … it didn’t become. There was a great deal of pressure until mid-March when it was announced as an epidemic and as we started getting more cases around the world, ”he said.

Press the jackpot button

By the month of 2020, scientists have been working relentlessly to make them perfect and then test their products. Then the results started to come in.They were almost too good to be true: Early studies showed that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective in preventing COVID-19. Held when additional studies come in.

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In early summer, the FDA said it would need at least 50% of any coronavirus vaccine to be approved. (Keep in mind that flu vaccines are between 40% and 60% over several years, with a good match between rotations. Viruses and Vaccines) Dr. Anthony Fosi, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is now in the White House’s Coronavirus Working Group, said he would buy a 70% effective vaccine – 75%

But the results of the mRNA vaccination made everything disappear.

Last week, a close friend and board member of the CDC told me that “the creator of the mRNA vaccine should have been nominated for a Nobel Prize.”

After the fast-paced race to the end, it was two mRNA vaccines that crossed the finish line for the first and second in the United States, with a one-week FDA approval in mid-December. It is just 11 months after the first genetic sequence was shared with the world.

In reaching the immunity of herd around the world, all vaccines that make it cross the finish line have a very important role to play. There will be billions of people vaccinated around the world, and it will likely be necessary in the future as well.

The thing about competition is that they force the impossible: They make us better, safer, and yes, faster than we were before. And the race to vaccinate under the brutal pressure of this outbreak could forever accelerate the pace of medical innovation by showing us how creative, agile and committed humanity is.

Andrea Kane of CNN Health contributed to this report.


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