NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s well known a variety of vaccine types can fight a virus. But which is most effecting at fighting Covid-19? Prior to development, researchers had to understand how this novel coronavirus worked.
“The essential part of the virus is something called the spike protein. That’s the little thing that sticks out of the surface of the virus, sticks into our cell, and that initiates the infection. We’d like to block that,” explains Vanderbilt infectious disease doctor, William Schaffner.
The newest U.S. vaccine, created by Novavax, is currently in Phase 1 testing. It’s protein-based, which is a more traditional approach, similar to the flu vaccine. The protein spikes are scraped off and used as the base of the vaccine. The vaccine teaches your body to fight off these proteins instead of fighting the entire virus. As a result, the virus spikes can’t stick into your cells and get you sick.
The Moderna Vaccine, which was developed with help from Vanderbilt researchers, is a genetic vaccine which is a relatively new concept. Viruses teach our body’s cells to create copies of the virus. Genetic vaccines, reverse the concept, teaching your body how to fight virus cells using mRNA.
Dr. Buddy Creech is the Director of Vanderbilt’s Research Program he explains, “It stands for messenger RNA. It is the genetic blueprint that, when it is inside your cell, it gives the recipe for your body to make a protein.”
If it works, this would be the first time a genetic vaccine was approved for people although the approach has been used on animals for decades.
“If we can make an antibody response or an immune response to that protein,” Creech says, “it should offer, at least short term protection, against this virus.”