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Reuters: Scientists Fear Rushing Coronavirus Vaccine Could Make Disease Worse

Published: March 15, 2020
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Rushing a coronavirus vaccine without adequate testing "can actually make the disease worse," scientists say.

From Reuters, "As pressure for coronavirus vaccine mounts, scientists debate risks of accelerated testing":

Drugmakers are working as quickly as possible to develop a vaccine to combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Behind the scenes, scientists and medical experts are concerned that rushing a vaccine could end up worsening the infection in some patients rather than preventing it.

Studies have suggested that coronavirus vaccines carry the risk of what is known as vaccine enhancement, where instead of protecting against infection, the vaccine can actually make the disease worse when a vaccinated person is infected with the virus. The mechanism that causes that risk is not fully understood and is one of the stumbling blocks that has prevented the successful development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Normally, researchers would take months to test for the possibility of vaccine enhancement in animals. Given the urgency to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, some drugmakers are moving straight into small-scale human tests, without waiting for the completion of such animal tests.

"I understand the importance of accelerating timelines for vaccines in general, but from everything I know, this is not the vaccine to be doing it with," Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Reuters.

Hotez worked on development of a vaccine for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the coronavirus behind a major 2003 outbreak, and found that some vaccinated animals developed more severe disease compared with unvaccinated animals when they were exposed to the virus.

"There is a risk of immune enhancement," said Hotez. "The way you reduce that risk is first you show it does not occur in laboratory animals."

The Israelis are attempting to rush a vaccine out in just a few months and are claiming they had a coronavirus vaccine "already in development before [the] outbreak" out of "pure luck."

According to Jersualem Post, Israelis say “In a few weeks, we will have coronavirus vaccine.” Vaccine was ALREADY in development before outbreak. Says Israeli scientist: “Let’s call it pure luck. We decided to choose coronavirus as a model for our system."

— James Perloff (@jamesperloff) March 12, 2020

Incidentally, last year an Israeli firm claimed to have "cured cancer."

The news went around the world and made the top of Drudge.

It turned out it was allegedly all a scam to raise money.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said we need at least around a year and a half to make sure any new vaccine is safe and effective.

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies it will take considerable time to develop a coronavirus vaccine, noting misinformation on the topic that has circulated. Trump has repeatedly asserted a vaccine is coming soon. Fauci says going too fast could be "detrimental" to public health.

— Oliver Willis (@owillis) March 11, 2020

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