For the first time in decades, vaccines are having a moment


Healthcare reporter at The Wall Street Journal. X for joining us, Peter Thanks for having me on Lot is being made right now about the vaccines were obviously going through the rollout. Things are ramping up. But, you know, I really have found very fascinating. The story of how these vaccines have come to be in the new technologies that were using. Obviously, the Fizer and Moderna vaccines are using this M or in a technology. We've never had a vaccine that has been approved before. And Johnson and Johnson, the new one that just got approved. They also are using new technology. There's is a little different. It's called viral vector technology. You know, these brand new things are showing a lot of promise and big hopes for Writing, you know, infections in the future, other pandemics, just other diseases. There's a lot of potential with all of these. So, Peter, tell us a little bit about your reporting on this. You know, Vaccines have been around for a couple 100 years, and for most of that time they used sort of tried and true method of making them and a lot of cases. That meant Taking part of the virus of the pathogen that you want to try to protect against. And using it in the vaccine itself to deliver that into the body to induce an immune response. And so those air still in use, But there have been efforts over the past few decades. Find new ways to make vaccines and the pandemic has really brought that out in the sense that, you know, even though some of these technologies were years in the making this pandemic has sort of been there moment to actually deliver, if not for the very first time, then In the biggest way possible for that. Vaccine technology and so As you mentioned the first couple vaccines used this messenger RNA technology and this Johnson and Johnson, one uses a viral vector technology and they're both Newer ways of making vaccines, and they both involved. Essentially delivering the genetic code and genetic instructions that tell the body to do certain things to induce the an immune response rather than deliver. The actual virus into the body that you're trying to fight against. We've talked about the M R D vaccines for a bit now only because they were approved first from Fizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, as I mentioned recently approved They're using this viral vector technology. Tell us a little bit more about that. It's different from the old ways as you were describing, but they still use a virus that they kind of readjust to help do this. So how does the viral vector stuff work? There. That's a good point, because I don't want to mislead people to think that there's no viral material in these viral vector event vaccines, But the difference is that you're using a virus that has Essentially nothing to do with the disease You're trying to combat and the general concept for these viral vector vaccines is to take one harmless virus and to use it against more deadly virus. And so in the case of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine A couple others. They're out there for cove is like the one from AstraZeneca and University of Oxford is to take something called it in a dental virus, which is Relatively harmless virus that can cause common colds or conjunctivitis. And to tweak it in such a way so that if it's injected into your body, it's not going to cause disease is not going to cause the coldest fellow certainly not going to cause coverted. It serves as sort of a carrier, and it's modified in a way so that it actually then carries Edna that tells the body's cells. Make this spike protein that found on the surface of the coronavirus finding that right virus of such an interesting part of this story, Johnson and Johnson decided they were going to go this route. Viral vector technology, and they had to be on the hunt or the right virus because there was also concerns. You know you're using viral material. What if you build up an immunity to that specific virus, then could you build up an immunity to the vaccine itself? So they were on the hunt for a very specific one to use as well. That question of whether this viral vector or this sort of carrier that makes up the vaccine is going toe compose an issue and so in the past there have been in is where that's been a problem. And I think it's not been entirely solved. And so in the past, the problem was that when they tried using one of these dental viruses to be the sort of carrier in the vaccine in people who had pre existing immunity to that identify Iris that this common cold virus it's sort of interfered with The effectiveness of the vaccine against various diseases. And so what Johnson and Johnson had to do was sort of figure out. Okay, Well, we need to pick the right carrier that the right dental virus and you know, ideally one that is just not that common out in the world so that not as many people have pre existing immunity to it. But even the people who do have preexisting immunity to it. Maybe it's not going to be such a strong immune response against the carrier that would interfere with the underlying vaccine is trying to do Tell me a little bit more about Johnson and Johnson and the company. You know how they got into this because my understanding I'm obviously we know Johnson and Johnson for a myriad of products, but they're fairly new to the vaccine game. And they didn't achieve a little bit of success with an Ebola vaccine using this viral vector technology also, so you know how did that work out for them? And then obviously they transition into working on the covert virus. He's got the world well known brands that you alluded to band aid baby powder, and they've long had a very strong prescription drug business. So drugs like Remedy Cade that that treat people who are already sick and then there are major player but they've not been a major player in vaccines. And so about 10 years ago, they decided they wanted to get into vaccines. More so they bought this Such a biotechnology company called Crew Cell, and that's really where this viral vector technology came from that JJ is using, and so they kind of spent. Several years just designing vaccines against various infectious diseases and then running them through the regular series of tests, So this would be things like Ebola. Enrica. Then they were able to start testing they rebel a vaccine using this sector technology in Africa after I think first after that, the really big outbreak in West Africa five or six years ago and then more recently In the Congo, where there was another outbreak, and so they went through the whole series of studies for that vaccine, and then eventually got European Commission approval for it in the middle of last year. So now they do have this sort of platform that Could work not only against over 19 but also against Ebola's and then potentially additional infectious diseases the night in fact, they even have the vaccine and development for HIV, which is sort of been this Notoriously difficult virus to target in the form of a vaccine. I mean, it's so interesting how far we've come. How much we've learned about the human body so much so that you know we're hacking the genetic software. You know of the body to produce these things. You know all these insights into the immune system that we've gained have led us to this stuff. So what's the promise for these things Like, you know, what can we expect? I know they're working on Vaccines for other diseases. Gene therapies, There's a lot of promise with us Yeah, And it's in a way. It's sort of the convergence of a couple different strains that have been going on in pharmaceutical research and academic research. And that is The genetic revolution on the one hand, but also immunology, and that's immunology is kind of feeding into both. Vaccines to prevent disease but also ah, whole new class of drugs to treat disease by in some way affecting the immune system. And so I mean, there are people that Infectious disease experts who say that this is really the golden Age of vaccine ology that these advances kind of signal that and think that it really shows that there's promised to really target a lot of Other infectious diseases. And in the case of Ah, big emerging outbreak like we've seen To do it in a way that is really quick and can actually Have in effect in actually stemming of pandemic. While it's under way, you know, rather than just developed paintings and the normal timeline of many years that the pharmaceutical industry is used to Yeah, And in the

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