Early Coronavirus Vaccines Likely To Target Further Complications, Not Infection, Health Experts Say

Some of the earliest novel coronavirus vaccines (COVID-19) to be approved are aimed at preventing the virus from developing more severe symptoms than at first infection, several health experts told Bloomberg.
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Robin Shattock, a professor at Imperial College, London, who is working on developing the university's COVID-19 vaccine, told Bloomberg that the earliest vaccines are likely to have limitations.
"It is quite possible that a vaccine that only protects against serious diseases will be very useful," he said.
"Vaccines have to protect against disease, not necessarily infection," added Dennis Burton of Scripps Research immunologist and vaccine researcher Bloomberg reported.
The spokesman for the Food and Drugs Administration, Michael Felberbaum, also noted that the federal regulatory authority is ready to approve a vaccine, even if it only works against deadly symptoms.
"We might consider an indication related to major disease prevention if the available data demonstrate the benefits of vaccination," Felberbaum told Bloomberg. "For licensing, we would not require a vaccine to protect against infection."
Why is it important?
Governments around the world are trying to resume economic activity because barriers to curb the spread of the virus are no longer possible without significantly affecting the domestic economy and employment.
A vaccine that only works against the development of the serious illness reduces the risk of death for some of the most vulnerable groups, including the elderly and people with underlying diseases.
"I would have loved to be protected from infection," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Stat earlier this month.
"But on the other hand, it depends on what you are looking for with the vaccine. This vaccine doesn't look like it is a knockout for protection against infection, but it could be very good for protection against disease," said Fauci, referring a vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN) in collaboration with Oxford University.
Several other vaccine candidates, including those from Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA), Inovio Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: INO) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) see clinical trials. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is expected to begin clinical testing of its vaccine later this month.
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