Coronavirus vaccines could change future vaccine development

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 5:35 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In the race for a coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna are the first to say their versions are more than 95% effective. Both vaccines use what is known as rDNA.

“It’s like a recipe written down on a piece of paper that gives the instructions,” said Dr. Andrea Amalfitano, MSU Dean of College of Osteopathic Medicine.

That means both vaccines are synthetic. Until now, most vaccines were made from the actual virus.

“You take the actual COVID virus and maybe inactivate it and then provide that as the vaccine which is typically how vaccines are made,” said Dr. Amalfitano.

That’s how Emergent BioSolutions makes its anthrax vaccine in Lansing.

“You’re going to want to separate the virus or bacteria from all that cell debris and media,” said Dino Muzzin, Emergent BioSolutions SVP of Manufacturing Operations.

Emergent is working with other companies to develop another COVID vaccine.

Muzzin said if these vaccines are approved, it could change how vaccines are developed.

“I think the industry itself will do the lessons learn and start rethinking how might we be able to parallel task versus the old way which was very serial,” Muzzin said.

Amalfitano said the COVID vaccines are also advancing a lot faster than what a typical vaccine would take.

He said it normally takes years to develop an effective vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna did that in months.

Wednesday, Pfizer asked the FDA for “Emergency Use Authorization” for its coronavirus vaccine.

That’s the same approval other treatments have been given during the pandemic.

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