I have long been a proud member of the Palo Alto Fellowship Forum, a group that meets weekly for lunch with outstanding speakers. When I moved from the Bay area a few years ago, I had to go "inactive" but with the Covid pandemic, they are now meeting via Zoom (who isn't?) which has allowed me to attend once again on a semi-regular basis.
One of our members is Robert Brooks, who yesterday gave a brief talk about the status of vaccine research and testing. Here is the summary statement from the program chairman:
Our own Robert Brooks updated us on current status of COVID-19 and progress on vaccinations in development. The good news is that it is very highly probable that at least one or more vaccines will prove to be safe and effective. His view on general availability, in line with those of Doctors Gottlieb, Redfield, and Fauci, is before the middle of 2021. The bad news is that the World is not doing well with containing the disease at this time. The United States and Sweden are not doing well at all.
He discussed three general types of vaccines in development: Messenger RNA types (Moderna, Pfizer); Inactivated viral (some Chinese); and Adenoviral (Oxford/AstraZeneca, J&J, Merck, some Russian). Disadvantages of the first type are that they have not been used before, their autoimmunity may be too high (resulting in allergic reaction), and low temperature storage is critical. They are easily scaled up in production. The disadvantages of the second type are that they are expensive and slow to manufacture. The third type uses a “trojan horse” common virus (such as rhinovirus) to enter the cell with codes for making proteins of the COVID-19 virus to build immunity. They may be somewhat less effective if the host (you-me) already has the trojan horse virus and resists, and side effects may result from the specific trojan horse virus used.
Brooks' bio is solid: He is adjunct professor in the Stanford School of Medicine, and founder and CEO of Virobay, which IPO'd in 2014, but died in 2018. I found to my surprise that there are over 6,000 failed bio-tech companies listed in https://biopharmguy.com/links/company-by-name-defunct.php This compares not too favorably with US automobile manufacturers (only around 1,100), and computer PC makers (less than 500)...
Here's some of the slides that he used:
His first point was that this pandemic hasn't gone away, and in some key countries, is again rising
His second point was that most of the states in the USA are 'again in trouble' to a degree
His third point was that people have been intimidated by the conflicting claims re vaccines
He then took us through a series of possible vaccine types, and closed with this somber calendar prediction