How deadly are CONVID-19, SARS and MERS in a statistic comparison – health –

The epidemics of this century in a lethal statistical comparison – Austrian expert says: it still takes 1.5 years to get a vaccine against the coronavirus.

A new classification of infections in the province of Hubei in central China, which is particularly badly affected by the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, has led to a drastic increase in officially reported cases. The number of deaths recorded more than doubled to 242 in one day, the provincial health commission reported on Thursday.

The number of new infections in Hubei increased almost tenfold compared to the previous days: more than 14,800 cases were added. In Hubei alone there are now over 48,200 officially recorded infections, and there are at least around 59,000 nationwide.

Even if the new corona virus makes headlines, panic is not appropriate. According to the information currently available regarding 2019-nCoV, one should not worry too much, says the Viennese virologist Otfried Kistner and provides statistics on the individual diseases.

The deaths in a global comparison

  • at SARS There were 8,096 diseases worldwide between November 1, 2002 and July 31, 2003. 774 were fatal, which corresponds to a mortality rate of 9.6 percent.
  • MERS caused 2,506 illnesses in 27 countries between September 2012 and January 15, 2020. Of these, 862 or 34.4 percent ended fatally.
  • From December 31, 2019 to February 11, 42,708 diseases confirmed by the WHO in China with the new coronavirus registered – in 1,017 deaths. This corresponds to a mortality rate of 2.4 percent. In 24 other countries, there were 395 cases until then, one patient died. That means a mortality rate of 0.3 percent.
  • In comparison, let’s say of the real viral that appears annually flu in contrast, around one billion people are affected, with three to five million people becoming so seriously ill that a hospital stay is necessary. (Note: APA did not provide current absolute or percentage deaths here)

1.5 years for a vaccine

Drugs for the causal treatment of 2019 nCoV diseases and, of course, vaccines to prevent further spread would be urgently needed. But vaccine development takes time. The Viennese expert: “For the classic way of development, the agent (virus or bacterium as the cause; note) must first be identified. Then you have to isolate it and decode the genetic information. After all, you need a platform with which to virus multiplies, cleanses and works up. “

If the entire pathogen is used as an antigen for a vaccine, the agent is introduced into cells for production in cell cultures, which then produce, for example, virus particles. However, depending on the type of vaccine, it must first be inactivated (dead vaccines) or weakened (live attenuated vaccines) so that the vaccine can no longer cause disease, but it does lead to a protective immune response. Only then can the candidate vaccine be tested first in animals and then in humans.

A vaccine with a “classic” development process takes around 18 months. RNA vaccines could offer an alternative. This was said by the Viennese virologist Otfried Kistner, formerly at the pharmaceutical company Baxter in Vienna, who played a key role in the development of novel vaccines against viral pathogens.

“Baxter was formerly supported by the US government for the development of a SARS vaccine. It took us 18 months from the basic work to the preclinical phase, ie to possible testing in human clinical trials.” The SARS virus is related to 2019-nCoV.

The expert: “It was extremely fast. It took 14 to 16 years to develop the vaccines against HPV (Human Papilloma Virus; cervical cancer, etc.).” Vaccines against HIV or hepatitis C have been successfully unsuccessful for more than 30 years. A classic development program for a completely new vaccine in the event of a new illness would currently take a total of three to five years to be approved.


Researchers in their daily fight against the virus –
Photo: APA / AFP / STR


Which would be optimal

It would be optimal if the world could prepare itself before the emergence of “emerging diseases”. “We only needed twelve months for a vaccine against A (H5N1) influenza (” bird flu; note) at Baxter, “said Kistner. It would be crucial to have a so-called mock-up vaccine including toxicological tests and possibly even one Model approval by the drug authorities, in which case, if a new pathogen variant emerges, the existing production system could be converted to the new vaccine very quickly.

This would be possible for influenza pandemics. But with SARS- and MERS you never got that far. “SARS has disappeared again,” said Kistner. MERS, on the other hand, currently does not appear to represent a global threat, particularly in the Middle East, so that far-reaching vaccine development is unfortunately not a high priority.

New technical revolution on the occasion of 2019-nCoV

However, a new technical way could be a revolution, possibly with 2019-nCoV as an occasion. Kistner: “This could be an RNA vaccine. To do this, the genetic information of the pathogen is converted into an RNA construct suitable for such a vaccine. The RNA is injected and provides the template for the ‘production’ of the desired virus components by the cells. The immune system then reacts with the desired structure of a corresponding protective immune response. The body of the vaccinated is the first to produce the vaccine, “said Kistner.

The advantage: You don’t need any “external” antigen / virus production, no inactivation, elaborate purification etc. Of course, as Kistner emphasized: “So far there has not been a single approved vaccine of this kind worldwide. But there are already corresponding ones for 2019-nCoV Projects by innovative companies, some of which are self-financed and some of which are funded. The expert: “The German start-up company CureVac (Tübingen; note) has a cooperation with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) program. CEPI is providing the company with $ 8.3 million to develop an RNA vaccine against the new corona virus. “CureVac also plans to develop” printers “for the rapid production of vaccine RNA on site.

Financing of such projects is inevitable in a new way, because traditional pharmaceutical financing for such new technologies, mostly developed by small companies or start-ups, does not work or does not work quickly enough. Kistner: “You need public-private partnerships (PPPs).” This means that the risk can be shared.

30 years of experience

Kistner has a lot of experience: The virologist worked at Immuno AG and then at Baxter in Vienna for around 30 years. In a senior position, he was responsible for the development of influenza vaccines, including the pandemic vaccine (A / H1N1) 209/2010, and for the development of a SARS vaccine for the USA.

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