Russia vaccine roll-out plan signals virus mutation concerns


LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s plan to roll-out the “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine even before full trials reveals how well it works is a concern among virus experts, which is partial The novel effectively warns the shot encourages the coronovirus to mutate.

FILE PHOTO: A handout photo provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) samples of a vaccine against coronavirus virus (COVID-19) developed by Gamalaya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology on August 6, 2020 in Moscow, Russia. She shows. Picture taken on August 6, 2020. Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) / Handout with RETRS

Viruses, including the pandemic SARS-CoV-2, are known for their ability to mutate at all times – and often have little or no effect on the risk to people.

But some scientists are concerned that adding “evolutionary pressure” to the pathogen may not be a fully protective vaccine that could make things worse.

“Less than full protection can provide a selection pressure that drives the virus to eject which is antibodies, creating strains that survive all vaccine reactions,” said Ian Jones, UK A Virology Professor at Reading University.

“In this sense, a bad vaccine is worse than a vaccine without it.”

Developers of Sputnik-V, as well as financial backers and Russian officials, say the vaccine is safe and two-month small-scale human trials have shown that it works.

But the results of those tests have not been made public, and many Western scientists are skeptical, warning against its use until all internationally approved testing and regulatory hurdles have passed.

Russia said on Thursday that it plans to begin large-scale efficacy testing of the vaccine in a total of 40,000 people, but it will also begin administering it to people in high-risk groups, such as health care workers, before the test May have produced a result.

“You want to make sure that the vaccine is effective. We don’t really know what (about the Sputnik vaccine), ”said Catherine Edwards, a professor of paediatrics and vaccine specialist in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the United States.

She said that what a vaccine can do to a virus – the risk of combating it, blocking it, or forcing it to adapt – is “always a concern”.

Dan Baroche, an expert at Harvard’s Beth Israel DeConce Medical Center in Boston, noted that the mutation rate for coronaviruses is much lower than that of HIV-like viruses, but added: “There are many potential possibilities of using the vaccine that works. It doesn’t. It would be the (virus) risk, which is a theoretical risk. ”

Scientists say that evolutionary pressures similar to those of mutate are seen with bacterial pathogens, which – when confronted with antibiotics designed to target them – can develop and evade drug emptying and resistance. Can be adapted to develop.

Antibiotic resistance and the rise of superbugs have been described by the World Health Organization as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development.

Jones stressed that vaccine-induced viral mutations are “a rare consequence”, and that the greater the vaccine’s efficacy in blocking the virus’s ability to enter and replicate cells, there is an opportunity to reduce its risk. “Learn more” “How to avoid antibody rescue.”

“If (a vaccine) is completely sterilizing, the virus can’t go in, so it can’t learn anything because it never gets a chance,” he said. “But if it goes in and repeats… then there is a selection pressure to vacate whatever antibodies are generated by the toe vaccine. And you have no idea what the result will be. ”

Reporting and writing by Kate Kelland in London, additional reporting by Julie Stenhuysen in Chicago. Editing by Mark Potter

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