Audio Interview

The development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines

Published on June 16, 2020   9 min

Other Talks in the Playlist: Interviews on Covid-19

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Interviewer: Professor Hotez, thank you for taking the time today to discuss with us the coronavirus vaccines being developed by you and your team at the Baylor College of Medicine. Could you start by giving a quick overview of the vaccines? Prof. Hotez: Sure, there are multiple vaccines that are going into clinical trials, all of them operate by inducing immunity against the spike protein of the virus. If you've ever looked at a cartoon of a coronavirus, it looks like a donut with a cream filling of RNA, and then around it are spikes that bind to the host receptor. All of the vaccines that are moving into clinical trials work by creating an immune response to that spike, so it's a matter of finding the best way to do that, and there are both traditional and new technologies that you can use for that purpose. We're using an old-school technology, the same one used to make the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine all over the world, we use a similar type of recombinant protein approach. Another old-school approach is using an inactivated virus, and then there are newer technologies which you've been hearing about. Interviewer: Can you talk a bit more about the technology that you and your team are using? Prof. Hotez: Ours is mainly focused on a traditional technology, the same one used to make the hepatitis B vaccine, this is a recombinant protein vaccine made in yeast. The advantage of it is that the yeast puts out a fair bit of this vaccine in our hands when we scale it up through a microbial fermentation process,