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Vaccine Progress

Guest Author at Angry Bear is Professor Joel Eissenberg. Dr. Joel Eissenberg is a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and is probably a good person to ask questions concerning pandemics and bringing new vaccines to market. Ask questions  .  .   .  I am sure he will answer the same as he has commented in the Comments section. He also reviewed my layman’s piece on Moderna’s mRNA. I am hoping he will contribute at Angry Bear on healthcare from time to time.

The Moderna trial has reached its enrollment goal of 30,000 subjects and at least 75% have already received both injections. This is not a challenge trial, but it is expected that many subjects in the vaccine and placebo arms will be infected and these will be tracked. Power calculations suggest that only a few dozen infections are necessary to determine whether there is a benefit to the vaccine over placebo. So far, the number of infected subjects is at or ahead of what they expected. The trial lasts two years, so there is plenty of time to collect data. There is, of course, understandable urgency to push out some vaccine ASAP.

I’m in the Moderna trial, which tests the efficacy of injecting the messenger RNA for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (the surface protein that gives coronaviruses their corona) directly into muscle. The protein is made in muscle cells and then (a) secreted and (b) presented to immune cells to stimulate the adaptive immune system. Technically, it is a double-blind trial, but so far, everyone in the vaccine arm experiences the short-term vaccine syndrome of headache, mild fever, muscle and joint ache after the booster. I did, and was able to get an antibody test confirming a robust response (IgG). I’ll continue to social distance and mask as before; I have no interest in testing just how effective the vaccine is or isn’t with my own body.

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