A ray of hope in the pandemic. This is for now the effect produced by the announcement of a Covid-19 vaccine that would be “90% effective”, according to the laboratories that developed it. To achieve this, Pfizer from America and BioNTech from Germany relied on a new vaccination technique known as messenger RNA. But all strategies share the goal of training our immune system to recognize the virus and activate its defenses in a preventive way. If it then stumbles upon Covid-19, it could neutralize it.
1What is the messenger RNA technique?
This process, one of the most innovative in the race for precious serum, allows you to inject strands of genetic instructions, or messenger RNA, into the body. This molecule can then “blow” to our cells what they have to produce. The messenger RNA from the vaccine will enter the cells and take control of them. Its goal is to have them produce a coronavirus-specific antigen called “spicule,” which allows them to attach to human cells to penetrate them. In other words, it will cause our cells to produce an element of the virus that it still wants to fight. The goal: that this antigen, which is harmless in itself, can be detected by the immune system so that it develops antibodies to defend itself. “RNA vaccines have the interesting feature that they can be produced very easily in very large quantities”, specifies to AFP Daniel Floret, vice president of the technical commission for vaccinations at the High Health Authority. The problem is that they have to be stored at a very low temperature. States will therefore have to implement specific logistics to be able to store them.
2 What are the other strategies tested?
Of the 47 “candidate vaccines” identified by WHO, 10 are in phase 3, the last step before an application for approval. We can distinguish three vaccination strategies, in addition to the one based on messenger RNA. The first is to use an inactivated virus, then injected into the body, which can then train to defend itself. It is a classic strategy that has been used for several decades, particularly against the flu. Another strategy is also to activate an immune response, but without using the virus itself. For this, the genetic reproduction of the virus antigen is used, injected into the body to activate its defenses. Finally, the latest strategy is to use another, transformed virus outright to lead the battle against Covid-19.
3When will Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine be available?
According to the director of the European Agency responsible for epidemics, Andrea Ammon, the first vaccinations could take place in the European Union in “First quarter 2021”. But prudence remains in order. The European Medicines Agency is reviewing data on vaccines. In France it still is ” very early “ decide on the conditions of its deployment, according to government spokesman Gabriel Attal. As for the vaccination strategy to be adopted, some, especially in Germany, want people at risk and healthcare professionals to have priority access. Still others, such as environmental MEP Yannick Jadot, would like to make it mandatory. The start of long debates in perspective, while France continues to show a record level of distrust of vaccines. According to a recent survey, 46% of respondents refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 once the serum is available.