Home » today » Technology » Dr. Theodora Hatziioannou at BIMA: “It is up to us to make COVID-19 a mild virus” – 2024-02-19 03:27:12

Dr. Theodora Hatziioannou at BIMA: “It is up to us to make COVID-19 a mild virus” – 2024-02-19 03:27:12

“Together forever”. This is what SARS-CoV-2 would say if it had a mouth to speak, as reported in BIMA-Science one of the most important scientists-“hunters” worldwide, the Greek associate professor of Virology at the Rockefeller University in New York, Dr. Theodora Hatziioannou.

However, even without words, it “tells” us in every way, emphasizes the renowned virologist: it did not stop, even when we declared the acute phase of the corona-pandemic over, to spread, infect and kill.

And in the last period, weather and overcrowding in closed spaces of helpers, has again “harvested” by increasing admissions to hospitals and ICUs, but also deaths, and creating new (but so familiar) fears of pressure on the Health systems.

Universal vaccination

“We may have relaxed and forgotten the virus, but it has not forgotten us and will never forget us” notes Dr. Hatziioannou in our zoom interview from her office in New York, shortly before entering the laboratory again to continue monitoring the evolution of the immune response against him.

«And it is in our own hand, in fact in the one we are stung with the vaccine, whether we will one day make the disease because of it milder for the population. Only through systematic vaccination – combined with the use of a mask that puts a ‘brake’ on transmission – will we raise the best possible, collective, timeless ‘shield’ against SARS-CoV-2″ emphatically complements and underlines that the vaccine for the COVID-19 it must enter the consciousness of the population as one of the seasonal vaccines that must be done every year.

“And this concerns everyone, not just vulnerable groups. I myself, while I do not objectively belong to a high-risk group for serious illness, last September I got sick with COVID-19, but three months later I had the updated vaccine because multiple vaccinations help to better the immune response to the virus that naturally follows one’s own his course mutating”.

The professor makes special reference to pregnant women, as, as she says, a recent study by the Rockefeller group showed that their vaccination is a valuable “antibody legacy” for their baby. “We have seen that the pregnant woman transfers protective antibodies to her newborn which she absolutely needs as she is immunologically “unimmunized” when she comes into the world.”

The measles example

Action is therefore required against the inactivity we had fallen into, emphasizes Dr. Hatziioannou, as inactivity is paid dearly. «The example of measles, which had become, thanks to the vaccination against it, is typical, a disease that modern doctors saw only in the literature. However, the relaxation of vaccinations led to an increase in measles cases worldwide. And with SARS-CoV-2 we rested.

The surveillance, in the countries that are now done, is minimal so that we have no idea of ​​the real picture of the circulation of the virus in the community, the campaigns for vaccinations and masks were not done in time.

And imagine how it is with us that the subvariant that now dominates, JN.1, is not very different from the previous ones – it differs by only one amino acid in the spike protein. But the virus does not make “contracts” about what variants it will show in the future.

Children, antibodies, mutations

She suggests, even now, “vaccinations and, yes, even in pharmacies. The same is happening in New York – any citizen can get the flu, RSV vaccine (s.s.: not yet available in our country) and the coronavirus in pharmacies. And masks, especially in crowded closed spaces.” Masks in schools too?

“We have to be realistic, it’s very difficult to bring young children back into the masked process. In addition, the pandemic has shown us that children, with very few exceptions, do not get seriously ill, but become “hotspots” for the transmission of the virus to adults, some of whom will be in serious danger if they get sick.

So the most feasible solution is to protect the adults. For example, it would be good for teachers, especially those with health problems, to wear a mask at school during this period».

Overall, according to Dr. Hatziioannou, our own behavior, our own action that must be ongoing, will raise the safest possible “bulk” to a virus that is proving to be extremely persistent.

“In our laboratory, we are following the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 from its emergence until now, and the main feature we see is its resistance to neutralizing antibodies. This virus is constantly mutating to escape our neutralizing antibodies, so it needs one or two ‘good’ mutations in the future for it to escape everything.” So we are dealing with a measurable opponent and this must be engraved in our (immunological) memory….

The universal vaccine is a difficult challenge

Different groups around the world have jumped into the “battle” of a universal vaccine for coronaviruses. Rockefeller also participates in this scientific fight by studying the evolution of antibodies after vaccination.

“Our recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that after giving mice a vaccine that we developed to contain antigens from different coronaviruses, the body does not produce as many “long-range” antibodieswhich could be effective against different coronaviruses, but mainly a “cocktail” of antibodies, each of which “sees” a different virus.

These results are not so promising in terms of the effort to develop a “pancorona” vaccine because practically they mean that if a new coronavirus with very different characteristics emerges, the antibodies that will have been produced will not be able to “see” it. – we have been dealing with this problem for years in terms of the failed attempts for a universal flu vaccine to date,” emphasizes Dr. Hatziioannou.

However, the research team does not stop the (scientific) fight. “We are now starting a study in which we will inoculate mice with a vaccine we developed that contains strains related to those that dominated throughout the pandemic, and next year, when a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 emerges, we will infect the animals with this strain to see if our vaccine is effective against it. In this way, we want to see how effective antibodies are developed against future strains of the virus.”

#Theodora #Hatziioannou #BIMA #COVID19 #mild #virus

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