Fauci Wants to Vaccinate Before the Next Pandemic Starts


In a sense, the world was lucky with the new coronavirus. Purely by chance, scientists have spent years studying coronaviruses, developing the tools needed to make Covid vaccines exactly as soon as the genetic sequence of the virus was published.

But what if the next epidemic comes from a virus that causes Lassa fever, or the Sudanese strain of Ebola, or a Nipah virus?

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci promotes an ambitious and expensive plan to prepare for such nightmare scenarios. He said it would cost “several billion dollars” a year, would take five years to get the first results, and would involve a large number of scientists.

The idea is to make “prototype” vaccines to protect against viruses from around 20 families that could lead to a new pandemic. Using research tools that have proven successful for Covid-19, researchers would uncover the molecular makeup of each virus, learn where antibodies should attack, and how to stimulate the body to make exactly those antibodies.

Dr. “If we get the funding I believe we’re going to get this, it will probably start in 2022,” said Fauci, adding that he supports the idea “in talks with the White House and others.”

Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins also described the project as “challenging”, believing that the necessary funds would be allocated.

Dr. “Once we start thinking about a successful end to the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not fall back into complacency,” Collins said.

Most of the financial support goes to Dr. It would come from Fauci’s institute, but a project of this scope would require additional funds that would have to be allocated by Congress. The infectious diseases institute has a budget of just over $6 billion this year. Dr. Fauci did not specify how much additional money would be needed.

If surveillance networks detect a new virus that has been transmitted from animals to humans, the logic goes, scientists can quickly produce the prototype vaccine and vaccinate people in the outbreak to stop it. And if the virus spreads before the world knows what’s going on, prototype vaccines could spread more widely.

D., a vaccine researcher and head of immunology and microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute. “The name of the game will be to try to limit the spreads to epidemics,” said Dennis Burton.

The prototype vaccine project is the deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Barney Graham’s idea. He presented his idea at a special meeting of institute directors in February 2017.

Dr. Every year, viruses threaten to turn into pandemics: H1N1 swine flu in 2009, Chikungunya in 2012, MERS in 2013, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016, Graham said. Scientists have struggled to try to make a vaccine one at a time. . Their only success was partial success with an Ebola vaccine that helped control the epidemic but didn’t work against other Ebola strains. Other outbreaks subsided before vaccines were made or tested.

“We are tired,” said Dr. Graham.

But researchers have developed new tools over the past decade that could make a big difference. They allowed scientists to see the molecular structures of viruses, isolate antibodies that block viruses, and find where they bind. The result was the ability to “construct-based design” for new vaccines that more precisely target the pathogen.

Dr. Upon hearing of Graham’s pitch in 2017, Dr. Fauci was inspired. Dr. “It struck me and others on the board as something really doable,” Fauci said.

Dr. Graham published an article. inspection paper He summarized the recommendation in Nature Immunology in 2018. But without the urgency of a threatening pandemic, the idea stuck.

But now many people think the time has come.

Director of the Vaccine Research Center at the institute, Dr. John Mascola said the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has created a spreadsheet for each of the 20 virus families that shows what is known about the anatomy and vulnerabilities of each pathogen.

Dr. “We have to develop a different information and vaccine for each virus family,” Mascola said. For example, vaccines for Lassa fever and Nipah virus are in the early stages. Vaccines for Chikungunya and Zika are further along.

Work to fill the gaps in vaccine development would be done with research grants to academic scientists. Duke Human Vaccine Institute director Dr. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” said Barton Haynes, among academic researchers. Although the proposal is not widely known among the public, Dr. Fauci said he discussed this in talks to scientific audiences.

Dr. Fauci said the program will also make collaborative agreements with pharmaceutical companies to quickly produce prototype vaccines.

That’s what happened in the Covid-19 footage. The SARS and MERS outbreaks prompted scientists to work on a coronavirus vaccine. This led to the discovery that coronaviruses use a spike protein to infect cells, but the spike changes shape easily and must be held in one position to be useful as a vaccine. The researchers discovered that this could be done with small molecular changes in the spike protein.

Days after the new coronavirus lineup was released, scientists devised vaccines to combat it.

Dr. That’s what pandemic preparedness can do, Fauci said. He wants to have prototype vaccines for 10 out of 20 virus families in the first five years of business.

Dr. “It will require quite a large sum of money,” Fauci agreed. “But after what we’ve been through, that’s out of the question.”


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