Coronavirus: The race to develop a vaccine – BBC Newsnight

published on July 17, 2020

some say the only way to truly stop this virus in its tracks is to find a vaccine but that is not a certainty just how fast can we do it vaccines have to go through several stages of testing before they're used on

You and me to check they're safe and they're effective first you have to find something you think might work then you put it through preclinical trials in the lab and on animals then there are three phases of human trials from small safety

Studies to much bigger efficacy trials then finally they have to be approved by the regulator this often takes up to 15 years but some are hoping to condense it all to just 18 months we hope to accelerate the timeline so you can see

That we probably will get the correct amount of data on whether the vaccine actually works what we may not have as much of is long term safety information is the new vaccine say three years or four years or five years after its

Initially given and the second part is we don't know how long those protective responses if they're there will last it's a fine balance between safety and speed plus we still got a lot to learn about how our immune system responds to

This corona virus and how it might mutate both factors that will affect a vaccine we are basing our 6 to 18 month timeline on the assumption that everything works well and you know it often doesn't work that way you know the

The failure rate for vaccines going from from laboratory to final market authorization and sale is 93% and there were politics that play – just because a vaccine has been developed doesn't mean everyone will have access to it who gets

It first how much do they pay for it countries under the auspices of the World Health Organization have been debating ways to ensure patents don't stop everyone from getting the treatment they need is just

Actions around how to ensure that the drugs the vaccines the diagnostics that are being developed to be able to respond to them to recovered 19 pandemic will be available universally for everyone on the planet it is

Particularly important because we now see vast amounts of money public financing being poured into the development of these products but we need to have strengths attached to that financing if you can say here's the

Money but the results of but it's been a diplomatic struggle Newsnight has seen early drafts of the negotiations where countries with big pharmaceutical industries such as the us Switzerland and the UK have been cautious about

Sharing the ranks with others to freely use their discoveries around treatments and vaccines for covert 19 always make trouble so to speak as soon as the term intellectual property is used they'll say oh no we really need a very

Different approach based on this concept of the global public good in the concept of solidarity we understand the UK is now supportive of the w-h-o pushing for equitable access to and fair distribution of affordable essential

Health technologies and the urgent removal of unjustified obstacles some experts are worried that these declarations might end up being toothless because the stakes are so high in previous outbreaks richer countries

Have placed pre-orders of vaccines put in poorer countries at the back of the queue their fears played out this week when the chief executive of Sanofi a big French drug company said they would likely give the us their vaccine first

Because the us partly funded it this prompted an outcry by the French government and Sanofi have rolled back on some of their claims in the UK researchers developing a vaccine at Oxford was support from the public purse

Have said people who will get access but so too will people from low and middle-income countries however universities allied for essential medicines a pressure group suggests that the UK is funding 24 other similar

Projects which are yet to declare who gets access to their research and at what cost so for a lot of people how soon the vaccine comes is as much about politics and who develops it as it is about whether it exists at all Deborah

Cohen reporting we'll joining me now is the director of the wellcome trust Jeremy fire is also a member of the sage committee as a Jeremy good evening to you welcome has contributed upwards of a hundred million dollars into a search

For a vaccine along with a number of other companies when you put that money in did you get a guarantee of who that vaccine would be for in the sense that it wouldn't be entirely a commercial concern it would be about affordability

You know this money that welcome put in just to say we're not a company we're a philanthropic organization but when we put that money in it was alongside many countries Germany Norway Japan the UK Belgium countries all around the world

Mexico Ethiopia and the Gates Foundation and it was put in in order to pull resources so that we could advance a number of different vaccines for kovat 19 and actually some other diseases but that we would ensure that when those

Vaccines were produced if they were produced that they would be available to everybody that needed them and that's a prerequisite of the funding that comes under the umbrella of Seti which is part of this global movement to make sure

That we have a vaccine available for everybody yes but you know given that those upwards of 7 billion people in the world I wonder you know how you make decisions about for example I mean it sounds such a crude thing to say but the

Price point because it's not free at the point of use there has to be some question of a return for somebody so how do you decide well firstly it does have to be freed for use for the world at the point of delivery that is

One of the engraved principles that we're all working working towards yes of course somebody has to pay for that somebody has to pay for the risk somebody has to pay for that the research the manufacturing the

Distribution everything that goes with taking science into a vaccine and then vaccines into vaccinations and that's what we're supporting and in fact in most countries of the world are supporting and there has to be a payment

For that but that is coming from a combination of the public resources and therefore the public resources have to have a say in how those vaccines are use and philanthropy and yes some of the expertise a lot of the expertise of

Industry if we think of this as US and then if we think of this as philanthropy or governments or industry working in isolation on their own we are going to face a horribly tense a few months and years ahead of us but but that

Historically that's not always worked and I wonder if when you look at this anafi case and you say well America puts money and Donald Trump says you know if we get this vaccine away then it's America first are you really telling me

That we're going to have some kind of incredible altruism that's going to break out into the world and affect everybody I am I am because actually it's not his altruism it is a global public good but it's also enlightened

Self-interest yes that's enough EGS Kay vaccine may go forward I would say that the French government and indeed seppius funded some of that work in Paris that's led up to it so this is not an American vaccine as such the vaccine may come

From Cuba it could come from Russia it could come from China and actually it's in everybody's enlightened self interest including actually the United States to make sure that we pull the resources and then every country has access to that

Vaccine through are you sure the White House sees it that way doesn't it depend so it doesn't it depend on who's in the White House I'm not gonna get into politics it doesn't bother me who's in the White House what bothers me is do we

Invest in the vaccine research development do we invest in the manufacturing and do we commit ourselves that we will make this vaccine available – yes – the seven people in the world in an unprecedented

Way we've never done this before but we're facing an unprecedented crisis we won't be able to vaccinate the world on our way to vaccine we hear today that there's news on an antibody test there's been news from first the Swiss

Pharmaceutical giant Roche and then the American one to Abbott to say that they have got a hundred percent effect of antibody now that has not we haven't seen the data on that so therefore we need to make sure before it gets

Approval that we've got all the data you know in your view how long before the data's out and how long before we might get approval I think it will come the approvals will come quickly these aren't good tests are they perfect no it's very

Very difficult to develop a yump so the perfect antibody test that's abuse in all ages across all countries all ethnic groups it's very difficult to produce but it will be much better than anything we've had to date and it's able to be

Produced at an industrial scale so that we can roll antibody testing out in this country and indeed around the world but antibody testing is only part of it antibody testing tells you if you've had the infection in the past it doesn't

Tell you if you've got the infection today and so can i alongside brings me on to your role and sage in just a chance for a very quick question you love Harry Jeremy hunts today say there's too much secrecy in states age

You know why do they not discuss the model the way the South Koreans were doing it you've always been one who said that there should be more transparency in Sage so therefore I wonder if you would tell me now in the in the kind of

Question of transparency the minutes of sage are still secret so did sage approve the change on the 12th of March of the policy to drop contract contact a and trace and isolated did say to prove that the truth on Sage yes and that and

The testing has been absolutely critical to every country that is successfully so far controlled the epidemic and as we go forward to this very vulnerable time when our note remains quite high infection rates

In this country remain high we still have three overlapping epidemics community care homes and hospitals that we must not lift the restrictions anywhere any in any rapid way because if we do that I'll go about

One and we will back into exponential place the only way you can do that is to lift restrictions incredibly carefully and make sure that we've got testing in place isolation and contact tracing and we should not be listening more of those

Restrictions until that test isolation contact tracing is in place we must learn the lessons of why this epidemic got out of control in February and March and we must not allow that mistake to be happening in May June and July so very

Briefly was a mistake to stop that to change the policy what I think it retrospect it was yes I think we should have sustained earlier and we should have been testing more thoroughly across the whole community and in care homes

And in hospital thank you so much thank you

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