“This is the greatest scientific achievement of my life,” says Prof. BRENDAN WREN


Have no doubt, developing a highly effective vaccine against Covid-19 in less than a year is an extraordinary scientific achievement, possibly the greatest of my life.

I would put it on a par with Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928. It really is so transformative.

And that’s because the implications are so much broader than the vaccine’s ability to stop this pandemic.

Today, as a direct result of this research, new vaccines are on the way to protect us from many infectious diseases, including the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

PROF BRENDAN WREN: Developing a highly effective vaccine against Covid-19 in less than a year is an extraordinary scientific achievement. Photo for distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in production

Thanks to a battery of the world’s most talented scientists – often working in concert rather than isolated in their own fields – humanity now has access to a series of new effective vaccines against the deadliest pandemic to strike our species in a decade. century. . Now we will all reap the benefits.

Vaccines are perhaps mankind’s greatest success in the fight against infections.

The legacy of the coronavirus could be that we will soon have jabs for all manner of other diseases, based on the revolutionary platform technologies of the new Pfizer and Oxford vaccines, as well as many other technologies in the works, including recent Ebola jabs.

This could have colossal ripple effects, as related vaccines are developed for human and animal diseases.

In turn, this will mean much less dependence on antibiotics – which could halt the development of multi-antibiotic resistance in bacteria, a current global imperative.

It’s a simple but profound equation: preventing disease instead of trying to cure it, which means the less antibiotics we use, the less resistance spreads.

My nightmare has long been of a world in which antibiotics are no longer effective, and this year’s progress offers real hope for a solution.

It is a breakthrough that goes far beyond the coronavirus.

Whether all of this is achieved in the eight or nine months since the pandemic hit the West is astonishing.

In one year, we have made progress that would previously have been considered too ambitious to be conquered in a decade.

Covid has made Britain go to incredible efforts – not just scientists but regulators, logistics networks and everyone else involved.

The situation is analogous to that of wartime, when rapid technical progress is driven by necessity. The same compelling forces were applied during this crisis.

The government has been responsible for a series of disasters this year: failures in the distribution of protective equipment, the terrible inability to protect nursing homes, the diagnostic debacle, and more.

Now he has a chance to do something right – with a smooth, well-coordinated national immunization program for tens of millions of people – and to be an example to the world.

Planning has been going on for months. There is a sense of confidence in the air that we are going to get it right.

All of this did not come from a standing start. Scientists have long been working on a vaccine based on RNA molecules and have accumulated a solid basic knowledge.

Professor Brendan Wren, Professor of Vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Brendan Wren, Professor of Vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

What few people could have predicted is how effective the results were.

Getting over 90 percent immunity is amazing. To put this in perspective: some vaccines, such as against malaria, are deployed in targeted populations even when their effectiveness is between 10 and 20%.

And because RNA is not a “foreign body” but a molecule that occurs naturally in our own bodies, no serious side effects have been reported.

From a medical standpoint, this is simply astounding – 50,000 people took part in the trial and none reported significant problems as a result.

No wonder so many microbiologists like me are thrilled with what this technology can do.

Immunity against Covid-19 is just the start. It will be the basis for safe and effective drugs far beyond.

All of this was done without compromising on safety. Regulators are independent of government control, so they cannot be intimidated into expedited processing until it has been proven safe.

Their scientists will look at every last molecule and sift through all the data from the trials, making sure the batches are pure and the vaccines are safe and effective.

This could have another hugely valuable consequence – by thwarting the insane disinformation and fear-mongering spread by anti-vaccines.

I’d love to say that will shut them up for good, but conspiracy theories of all kinds are a permanent social media curse.

What we can hope for is that the overwhelming safety of the coronavirus vaccine will finally allay unfounded fears around the MMR vaccine and also encourage every parent to get their children vaccinated against measles – restoring the critical status of the Great. Brittany without measles.

Over the next few years, I predict that infectious diseases as a whole will be significantly less prevalent.

It is an incredible turnaround in the health of the country and the economic prospects that result from it.

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