Monkeys Gain Immunity From Covid-19 And Potential Vaccines

Coronavirus Vaccine

The challenges in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to trigger these immune responses does not necessarily indicate that the vaccine will protect humans from COVID-19.

Studies conducted on monkeys shows that when the primates are infected with COVID-19 and they recover, they are likely to develop immunity from the disease.

Dr Dan Barouch, a researcher at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston said this is extremely good news! In order to probe whether infection with SARS-CoV-2 results in protective immunity against re-exposure, researchers developed a macaque model of SARS-CoV-2 infection that recapitulated certain aspects of human SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The world is now focusing on the search for a vaccine against COVID-19 to end the devastation it causes.

Barouch's team reports in Science that 35 days after the original infection, they gave the monkeys the same doses of SARS-CoV-2 as each had received initially.

As part of the new research, macaques were given experimental coronavirus vaccines that expressed six different forms of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a structure on the virus' surface that it uses to bind with and invade human cells. Upon second exposure, the animals demonstrated near-complete protection against the virus.

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The Beijing Institute of Biotechnology's vaccine is just one of dozens being studied around the world as public health authorities desperately search for a cure for the pandemic, which has already killed more than 94,000 people in the U.S. alone.

The authors wrote that "macaques had high viral loads in the upper and lower respiratory tract, humoral and cellular immune responses, and pathologic evidence of viral pneumonia".

Chen and colleagues examined the safety and tolerability of CanSino's non-replicating Ad5 vectored SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, which aims to induce sustained production of the virus's so-called spike protein antigen in recipients, in a dose-escalation phase I trial.

Researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine against the disease that has killed almost 330,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Follow-up testing revealed dramatically lower viral loads in vaccinated animals compared to the control group.

In the study, Chinese scientists reported that while people who had high levels of pre-existing immunity to Ad5 responded to the vaccine, the rise in antibodies to the SARS-Cov-2 virus was less robust than among those in the study who had low or no pre-existing antibodies to Ad5.

"Our findings increase optimism that the development of COVID-19 vaccines will be possible", said Barouch. "Further research will be needed to address the important questions about the length of protection, as well as the optimal vaccine platforms for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for humans".

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