The saying, “prevention is the best medicine,” is as old as time and has never been more appropriate nor more significant in the healthcare climate as it is at present. Preventative medicine is known to be one of the three main pillars in healthcare, together with treatment and diagnostics, and is possibly considered one of the hardest disciplines.
Image Credit: ACROBiosystems
Vaccines, the main tools for preventative medicine, have found themselves being questioned across several domains, such as social, industrial, and political. Factors like viral mutations, lack of funding, and, more recently, public misinformation have hindered vaccine development and distribution programs.
Yet, with the occurrence and consecutive persistence of COVID-19, vaccines have found themselves back under the spotlight with fresh interest. In the post-COVID era, it is important to consider what this means for viruses, vaccines, and their variants in the forthcoming days.
Many countries are finally re-opening their borders and re-establishing travel and tourism. Does this mean that the pandemic is finally over?
This is a difficult question to answer. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been hard for everyone, and it would be prudent to continue to track the progress of the pandemic and the development of new vaccines.
With the sporadic outbreak of new mutations, it is thus extremely difficult to anticipate what is likely to happen next. Since more than 70% of the population is already vaccinated, it is not likely that society will have to turn back to quarantines and country-wide shutdowns.
However, for this to remain true, it is important to keep up with COVID booster shots, and people are still expected to think about others when traveling, particularly the at-risk populations.
The development and distribution of vaccines was pivotal during the COVID pandemic. With most of the population fully vaccinated, what does the future hold for COVID vaccines?
Initially, the vaccines that were developed and distributed relied on the wild-type of SARS-CoV-2 — the lineage that was discovered in Wuhan at the end of 2019. Since then, new variants have replaced the original as the dominant variant. At present, this relates to BA.4 and BA.5, with a subvariant BA.2.75, which is anticipated to be the next dominant variant.
The main thing to note is that such new variants are a culmination of more than 30 or more mutations. The viral structure has already completely changed, affecting the efficacy of the original vaccines developed. At present, vaccines are still highly valuable when it comes to hindering extreme death and illness. However, they are incapable of regulating infection.
Regarding COVID-19, the main advantage of mRNA vaccines lies in their short manufacturing cycle, which is especially beneficial in fighting against highly infectious and quickly mutating viruses. In spite of the variations, vaccines are all assessed the same way: immunogenicity, safety, and clinical efficacy.
Safety guarantees that there are no risks or abnormal side effects to the vaccine. Immunogenicity assesses the potential of a vaccine to incite an immune response. This must be tested via several in vitro assays like anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody titer and measuring cytokine secretion by T cells.
Finally, clinical efficacy must be established via clinical endpoints like a decrease in asymptomatic or symptomatic infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Hence, all three of these studies are considered a crucial part of the clinical and preclinical phases at the time of vaccine development.
Moving forward, how will ACROBiosystems continue to contribute to vaccine research, development, and manufacturing?
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACROBiosystems developed a trustworthy plan and development platform to aid vaccine manufacturers in their fight against infectious diseases and viruses.
Doctors are still tracking the advancement of SARS-CoV-2 throughout the world and will constantly provide new variant products, such as antigens, antibodies, and kits. Outside of SARS-CoV-2, ACROBio also provides a range of antibodies and antigens targeting influenza, HIV, and the varicella-zoster virus.
Moreover, ACROBio has a plan to continuously track both the COVID-19 pandemic and other rising diseases to provide products that expedite the development and manufacture of vaccines across the globe.
To help strengthen society's understanding of vaccines and their interaction with infectious diseases, Dr. Pingju Ge has been invited to an open talk about the virus. She is the resident expert at ACROBiosystems.
In addition to her expertise in vaccine manufacturing, Dr. Pingju Ge has been tracking the progress of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic from the start and has been directing ACROBiosystems’ development of crucial reagents and kits for the manufacture of vaccines.
As such, the development of newer vaccines, including bivalent vaccines or mutant-specific booster shots, is becoming a priority when it comes to recharging sciety's immunity, preventing disease spread, and protecting the at-risk population.
Is there a hope that the existing vaccine boosters are sufficient to stop the further development of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Numerous studies have verified that vaccine boosters have the potential to increase the titer of neutralizing antibodies and enhance the entire vaccine safety.
This is especially true for the upcoming booster and bivalent vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as initial clinical results have proven that these new mutant-specific boosters are more effective against the current dominant strains than the original booster shots.
As more mutant-specific booster shots and bivalent vaccines begin to launch, it is anticipated that infection rates will decrease along with hospitalization and deaths. Yet it is still not known whether that is enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 and put an end to the pandemic, as vaccine development is initially the first step toward infection management.
However, with the availability of a new mRNA vaccine technology platform, the latest, variant-specific vaccines could also be developed in a short span of time. This is known to be a huge benefit when fighting highly infectious diseases.
During vaccine development, a large area of concern was to do with vaccine efficacy, especially between the two technological platforms available (mRNA vs. live attenuated). Which vaccine development platform is better and how are they evaluated?
With the advanced development of vaccines utilizing mRNA platforms, there are seven different types of vaccines at present - each with its own benefits and disadvantages. A few types of vaccines might be highly effective when specific viruses have been targeted. However, there is no clear achiever between the kinds of vaccines.
ACROBiosystems Group, founded in 2010 and listed in 2021, is a biotechnology company aimed at being a cornerstone of the global biopharmaceutical and health industries by providing products and business model innovation. The company spans the globe and maintains offices, R&D centers, and production bases in 12 different cities within the United States, Switzerland, England, Germany, and China. ACROBiosystems Group has established numerous long-term and stable partnerships with the world’s top pharmaceutical enterprises, including Pfizer, Novartis, and Johnson & Johnson, and numerous well-known academic institutes. The company comprises of several subsidiaries such as ACROBiosystems, bioSeedin, Condense Capital, and ACRODiagnostics.
ACROBiosystems’ brands include FLAG, Star Staining, ViruStop, Aneuro, ComboX, GENPower, and many others. Its main products and services are recombinant proteins, kits, antibodies, scientific services, and other related products. ACROBiosystems employs a strict quality control system for its products that are used in biopharmaceutical research and development, production, and clinical application. This includes targeted discovery and validation, candidate drug screening/optimization, CMC development, and pilot production, preclinical research, clinical trials, commercial production, and clinical application of companion diagnostics.
Through the continuous development of new technologies and products, ACROBiosystems Group creates value for the global pharmaceutical industry and actively empowers our partners. The company is dedicated to accelerating the drug development process, including targeted therapies, immunotherapeutic drugs, and its clinical applications, and contributes to global health.
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