The development of vaccines against Covid-19, “it’s not the Olympics but it’s still a development race”, pointed out Wednesday, December 2 on franceinfo Bruno Pitard, CNRS research director in the cancerology and immunology center of Nantes. He explains that the use of a new technology, that of the messenger RNA vaccine, makes it possible to “save time compared to conventional industrial production processes”.
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Asked about the green light from the United Kingdom to authorize the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Bruno Pitard believes that “The data is accumulating enormously and that” it is not illogical that there are agencies which are starting to give marketing authorizations “.
franceinfo: “We are not in a 100 meters”, declared professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah on franceinfo, in other words, we must not rush, vaccination, it is not the Olympic Games. Do you agree ?
Bruno Pitard: It’s not the Olympics, but it’s still a development race and the two vaccines developed by BioNTech and Moderna that we are talking about today call for innovative technologies. In fact, it is the vaccinated individual himself who will be called upon to produce the antigen which will serve to override his immune system. Things are going very, very quickly because with these technologies, there is a whole part that is put to use in the individual, we save time compared to conventional industrial production processes. The two messenger RNA-based vaccines are almost ready. They followed the different phases, phase one, two and three.
“The data is accumulating enormously and it is true that it is not illogical that there are agencies that are starting to give marketing authorizations.”Bruno Pitard, CNRS research director at the Nantes cancerology and immunology center
The European Agency says it is checking a bit more. What remains to be verified, in your opinion?
There are approximately 196 reported cases of patients who had Covid-19 in the Moderna trial, in phase 3. Over time, the number of patients with the disease will increase and we will be able to see if the degree of efficiency is still 95% or if it drops a little. As it is an immunization scheme in two injections, with a gap of 28 days, the more time will pass after the second injection, the more we will see if the degree of immunity holds over time. And if this degree of efficiency is still 95% as you go.
In France, Emmanuel Macron spoke of a vaccination campaign next spring, does that seem realistic to you?
I don’t know which vaccine he is referring to. Either there are doses available of the RNA vaccines which will be the first ready, or there will be more doses available in the spring. Or perhaps he is referring to the vaccine from Sanofi, therefore a French company, which will perhaps arrive in the spring on a technology that is different, more traditional, used for example in hepatitis B type vaccines with an adjuvant. But we do not yet have phase 3 results from Sanofi, they are still in phase 2. This requires additional studies and to have all these results to be able to decide. Let’s wait and see if Sanofi’s recombinant protein will be as effective.
Regarding innovative vaccines, could we have any bad surprises or good surprises when vaccination campaigns are launched?
We have never made this type of RNA vaccine. RNA strictly speaking has never been used in humans or animals. But we have DNA vaccines which are in animals, North European salmon and North American salmon, but also horses, chickens, dogs are vaccinated with DNA vaccination strategies. RNA is in a cell compartment called the cytoplasm, while DNA is in the nucleus. But despite everything, these two classes of vaccine put the individual to work to produce the immunogen. So we have hindsight in animals, but not yet in humans.