Thursday, February 29

What sense does it make that Spain has produced its first own vaccine a year after the rest

In the middle of March, the great commitment of the Spanish public administration to obtain a vaccine threw in the towel. However, it was not the only vaccine that was being developed in Spain. In fact, that of Hipra’s Geronese laboratories was even more advanced. So much so that, if all goes well, we already have a date for its arrival on the market, but does such a vaccine make sense now? Aren’t you late?

2022: the year of the vaccine. “The Hipra vaccine is progressing very well, it is finishing the last phase of the clinical trial and they are going to transfer the results to the regulatory agency,” explained the Minister of Science and Research, Diana Morant. What’s more, “the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has begun the accelerated ‘rolling review’ process for this vaccine” and, as soon as “the EMA approves the vaccine, we would be in a position to market and make use of this vaccine at the time it is approved. The company itself moves even June as a date”. However, Hipra’s public plans speak of the third quarter of 2022.

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What does the Hipra vaccine contain? Weeks ago, Morant commented that if the Spanish vaccine against the coronavirus “had not arrived before, [era] because Hipra has been more ambitious.” I don’t know if more ambitious (calling the feat of the RNA vaccines ‘unambitious’ is only understood from a rhetorical point of view), but it is different.

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Or, if we want to be scrupulous, ‘traditional’. Unlike the mRNA from Pfizer and Moderna and the adenoviruses from AstraZeneca and Janssen, Hipra’s vaccine is part of the so-called ‘recombinant vaccines’ and directly inoculates proteins that have been previously produced in cell culture.

Specifically, the active component of this vaccine is a recombinant protein with a heterodimer structure that emulates the ‘S’ protein of the Alpha and Beta variants of the virus. By choice or by necessity, the Hipra teams have gone all out to use well-proven methods to obtain a vaccine that would improve what was already on the market in terms of versatility, conservation and availability. What is not clear is that this is a “comparative advantage”.

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He comes late? Let us remember that 11,390 million doses have already been given in the world and, although many people are yet to be immunized, most of the world’s countries and international purchasing organizations already have long-term contracts with current vaccine manufacturers. For this reason, the first move of the Amer laboratories (Girona) has been to apply as a booster dose.

But the main asset of this type of vaccine is that, unlike the best known, the technology used not only has the backing of many previous vaccines, but it is also very easy to manufacture and store. To give a couple of examples, this vaccine is stored between 2 and 8 ºC; In addition, it is distributed ready to use and to be administered intramuscularly.

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That puts it in a good strategic place to reach the millions of people and dozens of countries that can’t afford other vaccines. In addition, it is a safe vaccine for future variants. Whether it’s late or not, it seems more commercial than scientific.

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The long-term. However, if we have to look at something, that is in the long term. When the pandemic broke out, we Europeans discovered that we were alarmingly dependent on the world’s great pharmacy: Asia. Europe, without going any further, did not produce a single gram of paracetamol. But with respect to biotechnological development, we also had problems.

Although it is true that many of today’s best vaccines have been developed in the Union, large pharmaceutical groups and leading research centers have been powerless to develop their own vaccines. “Being late” is not a problem if we learn for the future; in fact, there is no other way to learn to be on time.

Image | Ministry of Science and Innovation

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