The vaccines available on the market were based on different technologies, viral vector (Janssen and AstraZeneca) and RNA (Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer). More recently, a new vaccine by the North American Novavax called Nuvaxovid, based on the ‘spike’ protein, was approved at the end of 2021. In Canada, in addition to these vaccines, the drug agency approved the first plant-generated vaccine against covid-19, which is also based on the ‘spike’ protein, Covifenz, from the Quebec-based biopharmaceutical Medicago.
A new option may soon arrive on the market, vaccines based on inactivated glycoproteins and viruses. “They will provide another choice, especially for people who, for various reasons, are afraid of vaccines based on genetic material”, according to researcher Mário Monteiro, a professor of chemistry at the University of Guelph, in Canada. “With a choice between these three types of vaccines, perhaps the number of vaccinated will be higher in the future”, said the scientist.
According to Mario, the vaccine he developed is different from those used today, based on genetic material, which instruct cells to generate the famous ‘spike’ glycoprotein. One is composed of this protein itself, but generated in the laboratory and similar to other vaccines based on proteins already existing against other diseases and well studied, and another type of vaccine is based on the inactive or killed virus, another technology well understood, and similar. to those of protein that do not enter our cells”, he explained.
“I think the term ‘denial’ is sometimes misused and misinterpreted. On closer inspection, many experts have questions that must be continually studied. The speed of development of RNA vaccines (mRNA, acronym in English) was necessary and beneficial, as we lived in times of war against the microbe. But it is always more effective to educate than to force”, he pointed out.
In 2014, Mário Monteiro was distinguished by the British organization vaccinations.org in collaboration with the World Vaccine Congress, as one of the 50 most influential people in global terms in the area of vaccines, in a list led by Bill Gates.
When the process of producing a vaccine can take decades, the researcher explained that, in the case of RNA-based vaccines against covid-19, “it is enough to know the complete genome of the virus” and “the instruments literally make up the genetic sequence”.
“The biggest challenge was finding mechanisms to introduce genetic material into cells – a problem that has been resolved over the last few years. But more important was the infrastructure and financial support available from pharmaceutical companies, governments and also due to the rapid approval by health agencies”, he added.
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