As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths (currently near 100 million and over 2 million respectively) continues to rise around the globe, health-care systems are being put under extreme stress and the need for effective vaccines, with enough supplies for everyone, is crucial. The response must be global because this virus will keep circulating in countries without a vaccine, giving it the opportunity to mutate, completely change its structure and possibly come back as a new strain of virus.
Sadly, mutations have already occurred, but the good news is, some very effective vaccines are currently being administered in many countries, Canada included. Several other vaccines are in the final stages of pre-clinical trials. The challenge remains however, how to make vaccines widely available throughout the world.
Vaccine manufactures Moderna and Pfizer for example, uses “messenger” RNA (mRNA) as ingredients, but at this stage, the long-term effects of those vaccines, if any, aren’t known. As well, during the urgency of a global pandemic, researchers have not had the time to find out precisely how long immunity may last after someone has been vaccinated. The speaker will describe how vaccines work and argue that presently, there are no other viable options to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaker: Dr. Trushar Patel
Dr. Patel’s goal is to obtain detailed insights into how viral nucleic acids interact with host proteins by employing interdisciplinary approaches. Information on the specific sites of host proteins that communicate with viral nucleic acids will ultimately allow the development of therapeutics that prevent host-viral communication. These interactions are essential for the survival and replication of the virus – stopping the interactions is thus of benefit for treating viral infection.
Patel’s research program is timely given recent global incidences of viral outbreaks and, in many cases, the lack of available treatment and the failure of currently available drugs designed to target viral components.
Additional Reading provided by Dr. Patel: