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CORONAVIRUS CASUALTIES (Nov 30):- GLOBAL:- Total Cases: 6,34,96,623; Total Deaths: 14,71,976 Recovered: 4,38,74,616 BELGIUM:- Total Cases: 5,76,599; Total Deaths: 16,547 BRAZIL:- Total Cases: 63,35,878; Total deaths: 1,73,120 CANADA:- Total Cases: 3,74,051; Total Deaths: 12,076 CHINA:- Total Cases: 86,530; Total Deaths: 4,635 FRANCE:- Total Cases: 22,22,488; Total Deaths: 52,731 GERMANY:- Total Cases: 10,68,980; Total Deaths: 16,830 INDIA:- Total Cases: 94,62,739; Total Deaths: 1,37,649 INDONESIA:- Total Cases: 5,38,883; Total Deaths: 16,945 IRAN:- Total Cases: 9,62,070; Total Deaths: 48,246 ITALY:- Total Cases: 16,01,554; Total Deaths: 55,576 JAPAN:- Total Cases: 1,46,760; Total Deaths: 2,119 MEXICO:-Total Cases: 11,07,071; Total Deaths: 1,05,655 NETHERLANDS:- Total Cases: 5,23,478; Total Deaths: 9,376 PHILIPPINES:- Total Cases: 4,31,630; Total Deaths: 8,392 RUSSIA:- Total Cases: 22,95,654; Total Deaths: 39,895 S KOREA:- Total Cases: 34,201; Total Deaths: 526 SPAIN:-Total Cases: 16,64,945; Total Deaths: 45,069 SWEDEN:- Total Cases: 2,43,129 Total Deaths: 6,681 SWITZERLAND:-Total Cases: 3,27,072; Total Deaths: 4,753 UAE:- Total Cases: 1,68,860; Total Deaths: 572 UK:- Total Cases: 16,29,657; Total Deaths: 58,448; US:- Total Cases: 1,38,74,209; Total Deaths: 2,73,956 - India Travel Times.Com   [Estd: 1998]       * * *    Travel, More Travel, Travel Means A Million Things     * * *    
Pfizer, Moderna vaccines are ready for distribution: First-ever use of mRNA technology
With Phase 3 trial data, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are ready to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Both will start distributing the vaccines next month. Both have been found safe and effective across a wide spectrum of volunteers. In Moderna, instances of verified reactogenicity occurred in a few instances but that should not necessarily feed vaccine hesitancy. It could as well be an immune response to the lipid nanoparticle, the vehicle, and not the vaccine molecule. Usual side-effects of these vaccines included fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, fever and headache. But that is a small price.

In these vaccines, mRNA technology finds its first use. Unlike the conventional vaccines, mRNA makes the human body produce its own vaccine.

by RM NAIR

NEW YORK, Nov 19: The vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna based on mRNA technology have been found to be 95% effective against covid in Phase 3 trials. The efficacy of Pfizer's vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, was found consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity, and the observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94%, according to a statement issued by Pfizer.

It said that the vaccine was well tolerated across all populations with over 43,000 global participants enrolled and no serious safety concerns had been observed. Likewise, Moderna had released its findings last week.

Pfizer will produce 50 million vaccine doses by this December and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. The UK has pre-ordered 40 million doses, Europe 200 million doses and the US 100 million doses. Moderna is also contracted to supply a large quantity to the US, which has financed the project heavily as it has been an initiative of the NIH.

Pfizer plans to use its existing cold-chain infrastructure. The vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 deg C, the main drawback that has been cited as distribution in rural and remote areas will be challenging operation. The company says they have developed GPS-enabled thermal shippers using dry ice to maintain temperature conditions of -70°. Although Moderna vaccine can be stored in refrigerator temperature or minus 20 deg C.

Moderna and Pfizer plan to submit a request within days to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

“The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic. We continue to move at the speed of science to compile all the data collected thus far and share with regulators around the world,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses in a space of a few weeks.

What is mRNA technology

Their vaccines consist of a genetic code directing production of the coronavirus’ spike protein by the body's own cells. This spike protein makes immune system to produce antibodies without the presence of virus as in the conventional vaccine. The information is delivered in a fat bubble called lipid nanoparticle.

mRNA, a technology that has been in the works for several decades but never found its first use, is being deployed in these two vaccines. In this technology, human cells are instructed to produce its own vaccine by passing on a fabricated genetic code of the virus spike protein.

The technology has high potential for the future, even could be leading to groundbreaking developments in cancer research.

In the vaccine, a genetic coding for SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein is designed and the code is inserted into a messenger RNA molecule to be injected. The human cell produces the S-protein and displays the info on the cell surface, for the immune system to respond and produce antibodies. Thereafter the memory of the infection is stored which signals production of antibodies whenever the actual viral infection takes place.

The mRNA technology eliminates the traditional use of attenuated or inactivated virus or molecules or its fragments in the development of vaccines.

What happens when infection takes place? The virus enters the human cell. In the case of coronavirus, it uses its spikes to cling on to the cell membrane and that part is fused for the virus to enter the cell and using the cytoplasm and vitals it replicates, rendering the cell a mere shell. In covid, immune system responds very late such that it reacts very violently in order to eliminate the infection which has by now spread too deep. In the overdrive, various organs like kidneys, heart and brain are damaged by the very immune system, leading to death. This upheaval is called cytokine storm. In most cases death is not caused by the virus.

In conventional vaccines, the attenuated or inactivated virus signals the immune system to respond and antibodies are created and the memory stored in the helper cells for action when the actual infection occurs.

In the case of mRNA, no virus is injected but the body cells are made to produce harmless viral proteins which in turn signals on cell surface the presence of foreign object. The mRNA carries the genetic information code that makes the cell produce the viral protein. The new vaccine is a modified spike protein mRNA carried in a fat bubble.

The antibodies, helper cells and the T-cells all respond to the spike protein produced in response to the instructions the new vaccine delivers.

The new vaccine eliminates the risks of infection that the conventional vaccines might pose. And it continues to produce spike proteins for a couple of weeks. Pfizer and BioNTech are using the technology developed by Pennsylvania university, while Moderna has drawn its knowhow basically from NIH, which is officially assisting the pharma.

The mRNA technology came to fruition just last week when both Pfizer and Moderna announced the efficacy of the vaccines in final clinical trials as far above 90%. Both use synthetic messenger RNA. It does not contain any part of the virus, so the recipients will not get the infection from the injection.

Dr Drew Weissman, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been working on mRNA for several decades now. He is the guide for BioNTech, the German biotechnology company, working with Pfizer.

Covaxin, Cadila, Novavax, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovax and Sputnik V are some of the conventional vaccines in the advanced stage.

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