COVID-19 vaccine: where are we now and where should we go?

15 Janvier, 2021, 21:39 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • In the future, scientists feel Covid will resemble the common cold-causing virus

In the study, researchers from La Jolla Institute for Immunology and elsewhere tested antibodies, memory B cells and memory T cells specific to SARS-CoV-2 or its Spike protein, collected from 188 patients between 5-8 months following infection and the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

Imperial researchers will lead a new consortium of United Kingdom virologists to study the effects of emerging mutations in SARS-CoV-2.

A new national research project to study the effects of emerging mutations in SARS-CoV-2 is launched today [15 Jan].

The four common cold-causing coronaviruses have been circulating in humans for a long time and nearly everyone is infected at a young age - younger than measles before a vaccine was available. Although data is not conclusive, previous studies in animals hint that increased antibody levels may provide sterilizing immunity to Covid-19, and the presence of memory B and T cells may limit infections that can not be sterilized to low-severity or asymptomatic illness.

Just when we thought the SARS-CoV-2 virus couldn't get any more insidious, a new study from investigators at the Yale School of Medicine describes the mechanisms that allow the coronavirus to directly infect the central nervous system. "Those durations may be very different".

Susceptibility to infection and ability to infect others is also infected by other factors, including whether SARS-CoV-2 can replicate once inside cells and the animal's ability to fight off the virus. However, researchers are still figuring out how those components translate to protection against disease or transmission.

Other teams in the consortium will then study how these new variants alter the virus proteins, particularly the key spike protein on the surface. "This model assumes immunity to SARS-CoV-2 works similar to other human coronaviruses".

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The model predicts that the infection fatality ratio for SARS-CoV-2 may fall below that of seasonal influenza (0.1 percent), once an endemic steady-state is reached.

This observation indicates that exposure to these common cold viruses does not necessarily eliminate the chance for future infection, but that subsequent infections become less likely to cause serious illness.

Without vaccinations, the process could take "anywhere from a few years to a few decades depending on how fast the pathogen spreads", said the scientists, and cause a far-higher rate of death than the intervention of immunizations.

SARS-CoV-2 was also able to infect the brains of mice genetically engineered to produce human ACE2, causing dramatic alterations in the brain's blood vessels that could potentially disrupt the organ's oxygen supply. There are exceptions on the individual level, with some experiencing rare complications such as MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children).

The importance of quickly developing more widespread immunity can be seen in the current health crisis, which shows the "consequence of epidemic emergence into an immunologically naïve population in which older age-groups with no previous exposure are most vulnerable to severe disease", the researchers wrote.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (U01AI150747, U01AI144616) and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (U01HL139483).

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