Scientists were close to a coronavirus vaccine years ago. Then the money dried up.

  
Via:  Just Jim NC TttH  •  3 months ago  •  43 comments

By:   Mike Hixenbaugh

Scientists were close to a coronavirus vaccine years ago. Then the money dried up.
"We just could not generate much interest," a researcher said of the difficulty in getting funding to test the vaccine in humans. For weeks, Hotez has been reaching out to pharmaceutical companies and federal scientific agencies — and even the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom — asking them to provide the roughly $3 million needed to begin testing the vaccine's safety in humans, but so far none have done so.

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If this is true, perhaps it was inside info when Mr. Trump said he wanted it quicker? Hard to tell at this point as the good doctor just testified today. Please note WHEN this was done and subsequently "put in the freezer".


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Dr. Peter Hotez says he made the pitch to anyone who would listen. After years of research, his team of scientists in Texas had helped develop a vaccine to protect against a deadly strain of coronavirus. Now they needed money to begin testing it in humans.
But this was 2016. More than a decade had passed since the viral disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, had spread through China, killing more than 770 people. That disease, an earlier coronavirus similar to the one now sweeping the globe, was a distant memory by the time Hotez and his team sought funding to test whether their vaccine would work in humans.

"We tried like heck to see if we could get investors or grants to move this into the clinic," said Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "But we just could not generate much interest."

That was a big missed opportunity, according to Hotez and other vaccine scientists, who argue that SARS, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, of 2012, should have triggered major federal and global investments to develop vaccines in anticipation of future epidemics.
Instead, the SARS vaccine that Hotez's team created in collaboration with scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is sitting in a freezer, no closer to commercial production than it was four years ago.
"We could have had this ready to go and been testing the vaccine's efficacy at the start of this new outbreak in China," said Hotez, who believes the vaccine could provide cross-protection against the new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19. "There is a problem with the ecosystem in vaccine development, and we've got to fix this."

Hotez took that message to Congress on Thursday while testifying before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He argued that the new coronavirus should trigger changes in the way the government funds vaccine development.
"It's tragic that we won't have a vaccine ready for this epidemic," Hotez wrote in prepared remarks. "Practically speaking, we'll be fighting these outbreaks with one hand tied behind our backs."
As of Wednesday, there had been more than 94,000 confirmed coronavirus cases globally and about 3,200 deaths. Public health officials are concerned that the virus, which can lead to respiratory failure brought on by pneumonia, will spread widely in the U.S. and last beyond this year — much like the seasonal flu, but more severe and potentially deadlier.
In response, pharmaceutical companies, university researchers and the federal government have been rushing to develop a vaccine. In addition to the official government effort led by the National Institutes of Health, several drugmakers are also scrambling to develop a vaccine that can be tested in humans in the coming months. But even under the rosiest of projections, one won't be ready for more than a year, government officials say.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will get a vaccine," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health's director for infectious diseases, said in an interview this week. "The thing that's sobering is that it's not a vaccine we're going to have next month, so we're going to have to tough it out through this evolution."

Early efforts to develop a SARS vaccine in animal trials were plagued by a phenomenon known as "vaccine-induced enhancement," in which recipients exhibit worse symptoms after being injected — something Fauci said researchers must be mindful of as they work to quickly develop a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
That kind of research — figuring out which vaccine strategies work and which don't — potentially could have been completed before the new outbreak, said Jason Schwartz, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health who studies vaccine development. He said the global response to the coronavirus exposes broader flaws in the way medical research is funded, which he says tends to be market-driven and reactive, rather than proactive.

"We have a pattern in our medical research landscape in which outbreaks lead to a surge in research investment, and if and when those outbreaks wane, as they invariably do, other priorities take their place," Schwartz said. "As a result, you lose those opportunities to capitalize on that initial investment, and the cycle starts over again."
The responsibility to fund this type of research must rest with governments and nonprofits, Schwartz said, because for-profit pharmaceutical companies can't be counted on to fund projects that, in most cases, will never make money.
Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
Some progress was made in the wake of the West Africa Ebola outbreak that ended in 2016. It spurred global leaders to create the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, a private-public partnership that's based in Norway and funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The nonprofit group has poured millions of dollars into vaccine development, but Schwartz and other experts say more is needed.
"We need to make sure that there are incentives outside of our traditional business model that can lead to greater investments in that foundational research," Schwartz said.

Dr. James LeDuc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory, said work has resumed on the SARS vaccine that his researchers helped develop with Hotez's team. The laboratory, a high-security biocontainment facility on Texas' Gulf Coast, received a live sample of the new coronavirus last month and will use it to test the vaccine in mice.
But first the lab must breed a colony of mice genetically engineered to replicate the human disease, a process that LeDuc said will take months.
"I think we as a nation and as a society need to be more agile in recognizing that new diseases do occur, and once they've cropped up, they very well may come again, maybe not the same but very similar," said LeDuc, who formerly directed influenza response efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "So it was a shame that we had to stop that work and now are having to try and restart it."

For weeks, Hotez has been reaching out to pharmaceutical companies and federal scientific agencies — and even the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom — asking them to provide the roughly $3 million needed to begin testing the vaccine's safety in humans, but so far none have done so.
"We've had some conversations with big pharma companies in recent weeks about our vaccine, and literally one said, 'Well, we're holding back to see if this thing comes back year after year,'" Hotez said.
He said he hopes the seriousness of the outbreak leads to reforms in how the federal government funds vaccine development, although he notes that he called for similar changes after the SARS and Ebola outbreaks. He said he's particularly worried about the toll the coronavirus will take on elderly nursing home residents and health care workers. But in his testimony to Congress on Thursday, Hotez also made an economic argument.
"Because nobody would invest a few million dollars into these SARS vaccines, we're looking at, I don't know what the number is, $10 billion, $100 billion in economic losses," Hotez said ahead of his appearance in Washington. "The stakes are so high, and the amount of money you're talking about to fund this research is so modest.


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Just Jim NC TttH
1  seeder  Just Jim NC TttH    3 months ago

Well Hello.................................

 
 
 
Sparty On
2  Sparty On    3 months ago

Interesting story.  

Somehow i think big Pharma may be behind some of the lack of interest in this.   At least from a government standpoint.

 
 
 
KDMichigan
3  KDMichigan    3 months ago

Now ,now you can't bring up the failures of the last administration, It triggers' the TDS sufferers.

 
 
 
Dulay
3.1  Dulay  replied to  KDMichigan @3    3 months ago

Did your READ the seed? The Dr. states that for-profit PHARMA dropped the ball in the past on investment and that for weeks he's been trying to get PHARMA or the government to invest the 3 million. I'm pretty sure that Trump's Administration has been in charge for the last few weeks and is the one that's failing. 

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
3.1.1  seeder  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Dulay @3.1    3 months ago

Did YOU read? That was back in 2016 and Trump had NOTHING to do with it.

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
3.1.2  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @3.1.1    3 months ago

who was elected president in 2016 again?

 
 
 
KDMichigan
3.1.3  KDMichigan  replied to  igknorantzrulz @3.1.2    3 months ago
who was elected president in 2016 again?

Who was President for all of 2016? 

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
3.1.4  igknorantzrulz  replied to  KDMichigan @3.1.3    3 months ago

Who was President for all of 2016? 

that would be the president at the time.

are you stating Trump or anyone in his administration was never approached by these scientists ?

as i find that ridiculous. 

WHY would they not present it to the incoming administration ?

 
 
 
Dulay
3.1.5  Dulay  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @3.1.1    3 months ago
Did YOU read? That was back in 2016 and Trump had NOTHING to do with it.

Why yes Jim, YES I did and I actually comprehended what I read too. 

For weeks, Hotez has been reaching out to pharmaceutical companies and federal scientific agencies — and even the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom — asking them to provide the roughly $3 million needed to begin testing the vaccine's safety in humans, but so far none have done so.
"We've had some conversations with big pharma companies in recent weeks about our vaccine, and literally one said, 'Well, we're holding back to see if this thing comes back year after year,'" Hotez said.

Has is PRESENT TENSE Jim. 

I can only hope that "recent weeks" is self explanatory. 

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
3.1.6  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Dulay @3.1.5    3 months ago
Has is PRESENT TENSE Jim. 

is it just me, or just Jim...?

 
 
 
Dulay
3.1.7  Dulay  replied to  KDMichigan @3.1.3    3 months ago
Who was President for all of 2016? 

Who was President in 'recent weeks'? 

 
 
 
KDMichigan
3.1.8  KDMichigan  replied to  Dulay @3.1.7    3 months ago
Who was President in 'recent weeks'? 

What has that got to do with anything other than giving the TDS sufferers something to bitch about? 

 
 
 
Dulay
3.1.9  Dulay  replied to  KDMichigan @3.1.8    3 months ago
What has that got to do with anything other than giving the TDS sufferers something to bitch about? 

It has to do with the FACT that the seed states clearly that in 'recent weeks' Trump's "scientific agencies" ignored Dr. Hotez. Again, for what it is costing for Trump to play golf this weekend, Dr. Hotez's research could be totally funded. 

It also has to do with the FACT that the PHARMA companies that Trump met with have already been contacted by Dr. Hotez and at least one told him that they wanted to wait and see if people kept dying next year before they invested. Since Trump didn't tweet anything about it, I'm pretty sure that the PHARMA companies didn't tell Trump that there was a SARS vaccine that could be tweaked and ready to test right quick.  

So the seeder seems to want to have dumped this in the lap of prior Administrations, especially Obama's, but the actual content of the seed dumps it right in Trump's lap. 

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
4  seeder  Just Jim NC TttH    3 months ago

Speaking of trigger. I see none of our naysayers seem to want to touch this story. I wonder why /s

 
 
 
Dulay
4.1  Dulay  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @4    3 months ago

Actually Jim, I told you about it yesterday. 

 
 
 
r.t..b...
5  r.t..b...    3 months ago

I am not an epidemiologist so perhaps someone can enlighten me...is not every virus individual in it's formation, means of transmission, and incubation period, etc.?  How can a vaccine be developed in advance in not knowing the unique construction in a yet to be discovered pathogen? I defer to those who know much more about it.  

 
 
 
Sparty On
5.1  Sparty On  replied to  r.t..b... @5    3 months ago

It's right in the article:

"We could have had this ready to go and been testing the vaccine's efficacy at the start of this new outbreak in China," said Hotez, who believes the vaccine could provide cross-protection against the new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19. "There is a problem with the ecosystem in vaccine development, and we've got to fix this."

Maybe it would have helped and maybe not but i'm of the school that something is better than nothing.   Seems silly to not spend a few million for something that could be so beneficial.     We waste a lot more money on things that make much less sense every year.  

 
 
 
r.t..b...
5.1.1  r.t..b...  replied to  Sparty On @5.1    3 months ago
We waste a lot more money on things that make much less sense every year.  

That's a given.

But my original question is unanswered by anything in the article. If we could develop a vaccine prior to the outbreak, we could eradicate viral disease. Something fishy about one man's contentions...perhaps another political point to be made (plenty of those to go around) rather than dealing in scientific fact. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
5.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  r.t..b... @5.1.1    3 months ago

The Flu vaccine is a educated guess each year.   

Usually they get it right for the most prevalent strains.    Sometimes they don't.  

I view this no differently

 
 
 
r.t..b...
5.1.3  r.t..b...  replied to  Sparty On @5.1.2    3 months ago
The Flu vaccine is a educated guess each year.

Agreed...so we can put the idea to bed that previous administrations had anything to do with this current strain in regard to previous funding decisions. Let us for once deal with the present...we'll all be better served.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
5.1.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Sparty On @5.1.2    3 months ago

The CDC has a dart board with all the flu strains on it. Someone draws a number from a hat to be the designated hitter. Whichever strain the dart lands on is the vaccine doled out that year.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
5.1.5  Vic Eldred  replied to  r.t..b... @5.1.1    3 months ago
But my original question is unanswered by anything in the article.

"More than a decade had passed since the viral disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, had spread through China, killing more than 770 people. That disease, an earlier coronavirus similar to the one now sweeping the globe, was a distant memory by the time Hotez and his team sought funding to test whether their vaccine would work in humans."

It's a variation of SARS...Get it!   A virus that had similar origins. 

The real blame lies with the government of China, not so much with American health organizations.

 
 
 
Dulay
5.1.6  Dulay  replied to  Sparty On @5.1    3 months ago
We waste a lot more money on things that make much less sense every year.  

All Trump has to do is give up one weekend of golf.

 
 
 
Dulay
5.1.7  Dulay  replied to  Dulay @5.1.6    3 months ago

Of course he couldn't and he landed in FL tonight...

 
 
 
Heartland American
5.1.8  Heartland American  replied to  Dulay @5.1.6    3 months ago

But Trump!.....yet more TDS in display

 
 
 
Heartland American
5.1.9  Heartland American  replied to  Dulay @5.1.7    3 months ago

His home state where his house is. How utterly shocking!  

 
 
 
Dulay
5.1.10  Dulay  replied to  Heartland American @5.1.9    3 months ago
His home state where his house is. How utterly shocking! 

His for profit cash cow golf course that sucks up millions in taxpayer funds every time Trump lands there. 

Hey you're a cheer leader for Judicial Watch right? Where are the numbers for Trump's travel for 2018 and 2019? Jw's most recent tally is from Jan. 2018. In fact, JW didn't even manage to document the final total of Trump's 2017 travel costs. They reported Obama's travel costs almost on a quarterly basis. Did they give up trying to tally Trump's or are they just hiding it from the American people? 

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
5.1.11  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Dulay @5.1.10    3 months ago

Wouldn't want those numbers out before an election now.

 
 
 
Dulay
5.1.12  Dulay  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.5    3 months ago
The real blame lies with the government of China, not so much with American health organizations.

Right because the US should rely on China to defend Americans from infectious diseases. /s

BTW, SARS-CoV is a variation of the coronavirus, just like CORID-19. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
5.1.13  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dulay @5.1.12    3 months ago

You see, the natural tendency of a leftist totalitarian regime is to be secretive rather than to be cooperative when dealing with something like this. Much could have been done if China had shared info with others right away.

 
 
 
Dulay
5.1.14  Dulay  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.13    3 months ago
You see, the natural tendency of a leftist totalitarian regime is to be secretive rather than to be cooperative when dealing with something like this.

That's pretty ironic since just about every health agency around the world praised China for shutting down their country and thereby giving the rest of the world time to gear up. I'm pretty sure that China being what you call a "leftist totalitarian regime" made it a hell of a lot easier to control the movement of their population. 

Much could have been done if China had shared info with others right away.

Much could have been done if the US had shared TRUTHFUL information with it's population right away or even now. Trump is STILL lying about what's happening. 

 
 
 
Dulay
5.1.16  Dulay  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.15    3 months ago
Let me be the first to enlighten you:

Thanks for the month old revelation. /s

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
5.1.17  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dulay @5.1.16    3 months ago

Your very welcome/s

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
5.2  seeder  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  r.t..b... @5    3 months ago
How can a vaccine be developed in advance in not knowing the unique construction in a yet to be discovered pathogen?

And THAT my friend is the rub. You see, I've caught holy hell the last couple of days for saying that it didn't matter that the extra baggage (staff) of the CDC preparedness team was disbanded. The assumption, by others, was that it reduced our ability to find something fast. I explained it much the way you have with the "individuality" of the viruses essentially meant we would be starting from scratch. Nuh uh was the replies. Well yuh huh.

And gotta agree with Sparty on this. The work they had done may have helped and for .04% (yes that's four one hundredths of one percent or $3M) of the $8B the administration is about to sign into being could have been well spent and, if effective, may have been a good starting point for this particular strain that required, maybe, some modifications in conjunction with a new development program being established. They would undoubtedly work in tandem. But then again, maybe not. My solar powered crystal ball is low on power.

 
 
 
r.t..b...
5.2.1  r.t..b...  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @5.2    3 months ago
My solar powered crystal ball is low on power.

Good points, Jim...a sunny 86 today here in the desert and still my solar powered crystal ball is cloudy at best.

This is just another in a too long list of issues that become a testament to the level of dysfunction we experience, only compounded with the advent of any new story to cross the wires. 

 
 
 
Dulay
5.2.2  Dulay  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @5.2    3 months ago
I explained it much the way you have with the "individuality" of the viruses essentially meant we would be starting from scratch. Nuh uh was the replies. Well yuh huh.

If what you just said were true [it's NOT], then your seed would be moot wouldn't it Jim? 

EVERYTHING that Dr. Hotez has said indicates that he believes that they can quickly adapt the SARS vaccine that he has already tested.

The genome of COVID-19 is an 80% match to SARS-CoV. THAT is why he's trying to get PHARMA and the Trump Administration to fund human testing on his vaccine. 

THAT isn't starting from scratch. 

 
 
 
Snuffy
5.3  Snuffy  replied to  r.t..b... @5    3 months ago

and how much was spent initially on understanding the flu and building the first vaccine for the flu?  We don't spend nearly that amount each year now as the underlying knowledge of the flu virus is known, but we still build an annual vaccine for it and the annual cost to create the vaccine is not that large.

 
 
 
r.t..b...
5.3.1  r.t..b...  replied to  Snuffy @5.3    3 months ago
as the underlying knowledge of the flu virus is known, but we still build an annual vaccine for it

No arguments, Snuffy. That is why we have the processes in place, and we can take confidence in knowing the best and the brightest will develop an equally effective vaccine for this strain.

That given, I cannot understand the grandstanding, from both sides, in couching a public health concern in political terms. 

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
5.3.2  igknorantzrulz  replied to  r.t..b... @5.3.1    3 months ago

i find climate change deniers to be the most open when discussing science driven by politix me off on occasion

 
 
 
Heartland American
5.3.3  Heartland American  replied to  igknorantzrulz @5.3.2    3 months ago

no one denies that there is climate change.  It is cyclical and a variety of natural events on earth 🌎 and on the sun ☀️ are the primary causes of it.  

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
5.3.4  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Heartland American @5.3.3    3 months ago

Well, then i will.

 
 
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