To defeat and anticipate the variants of the Covid-19 virus, vaccines should be constantly or almost constantly updated. “It would be better to play in advance”, explains Barbara Gallavotti, scientist and popularizer of Superquark Wednesday 3 November in Dimartedì, the in-depth program conducted by Giovanni Floris on La7.
In the usual space dedicated to the pandemic, Gallavotti talked about the developments of the serum in relation to the mutations of the virus. The researcher cited some recent studies published in the scientific journal Nature. “Vaccines are of two types,” to mRna like Pfizer and Moderna, to Dna like Johnson & Johnson and AstraZenca, recalls the biologist. “They were developed at the beginning of 2020 based on the variants that were circulating at the time – explains the scientist – and we were lucky that the active ingredients made at the time proved to be very useful also in contrasting the variants that arrived later, such as Alfa, ex British, and Delta, ex Indian.
“But if a new variant arrives that radically changes the connotations of the virus, those vaccines based on those active ingredients may no longer be sufficient”, and “the active ingredient may need to be updated”. “It’s very easy, especially for mRna vaccines that can be changed in a few hours.” But there is a “but”, an aspect that makes everything more complicated. “After that there is a bottleneck that is to verify the effect of the new preparation on a sample of volunteers, and this could take time”.
And how do you do it then? “Playing in advance, preparing a new vaccine formulation” for any variations of the virus so as to “develop a protocol” which aims to verify “how a sample of people can react to a modified vaccine”.