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COVID-19 Vaccine: We Need a GLOBAL Plan NOW!

By Shlomo Maital

   The race is on! Between 80 and 100 labs are hard at work trying to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that is both safe and effective. And eight of them have now begun clinical trials with human beings.

   Now is the time to develop a global strategic plan to produce and distribute the vaccine, worldwide, when it is proven and the Phase 3 trials end successfully. Rapid massive production will be highly complex, and several plants will be needed in several countries.

     The only organization capable of organizing such a plan is the WHO World Health Organization. President Trump has crippled it, by cutting off funding, as part of his bogus fake claim to blame the whole crisis on China and on the WHO for complicity.

     We need to know:   Where can the vaccine be produced? What reagents and raw materials will be needed?   What will the cost of production be? How will the vaccine be distributed fairly, worldwide, when demand will be massive, basically, for all 7.594 billion people in the world?   How will the vaccine be priced, so that those in poor countries will also get it and afford it?

     All these are crucial questions that need answers. Now is the time to start working on them.

     This is a crucial test for the US, Europe and Asia. If the principle “every man for himself” or “America First” prevails, there will be disaster. The rancor and hatred that will result will echo around the world for generations – and with good reason.

       There has to be a global agreement that, first, the vaccine science and technology will be freely provided to everyone, without a blocking patent or patents. Second, the science and technology of producing it will be shared freely for all nations to use, with teams of consulting experts available, with packed bags, to fly on a moment’s notice to assist and consult. Third, a very large fund, with billions of dollars, must be raised, to subsidize costs of the vaccine for poor countries. Fourth, within each country, the vaccine must be provided according to clear priorities, those most at risk, and not according to whomever can afford the cost. There must be steps to prevent and control illicit black markets, and fake vaccines sold by scammers – there will be a lot of those.

     THIS is the time for planning. The plan has to be global, so that there is not an arms race among countries, about who will be first to reap propaganda benefits and to serve only their own people.

     If “America first” prevails, as Trump wants, the good name, values and even affection for America will be destroyed for many decades. Fortunately, the presidential election on Nov. 3 may be the one thing that puts an end to this shameful episode in US history.

Closing in on a Vaccine: The Not-so-simple Mechanics

By Shlomo Maital


Tel Aviv University Professor Jonathan Gershoni claims his lab is “two-thirds of the way” to creating a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report in today’s Jerusalem Post, by Tamar Beeri.

   Gershoni, who holds USPTO vaccine patents, is very good at explaining how his vaccine will work. Probably other vaccines against COVID-19 will adopt similar strategies. So, here is his not-so-simple explanation, according to Beeri:

     “[Gershoni] explained that the vaccine intends to target the virus’s Receptor Binding Motif (RBM), a critical weak point which allows the virus to attach itself and infect a target cell.   The RBM is a small feature of the virus’s “spike” protein, meaning that the virus uses many different proteins to replicate and invade cells, but the “spike” protein is the “major surface protein that it uses to bind to a receptor – another protein that acts like a doorway into a human cell.” [Those spikes you see on cartoon drawings of the novel coronavirus are how it pokes into a human cell and uses the cell’s DNA to replicate itself].

       “Once this protein binds to the cell receptor of a human cell, the viral membrane fuses with that of the human cell, which allows the genome, or genetic blueprint of the virus to enter human cells and begin infection. “The idea is to recreate, to reconstitute, to construct an RBM [receptor binding motif] of COVID-19 virus and use it as the vaccine,” he told the Post. “That is to say, you would inject a small 50 amino-acid sequence and it would allow our immune system to focus on it and create antibodies that would directly target the virus at its weak spot.”

     “Due to the size of the RBM, which is a highly complex three-dimensional structure and only 50 amino acids long, it will be very challenging for it to be functionally reconstituted. It would, however, be extremely effective as a basis for a possible vaccine.

   “The smaller the target and the focus of the attack, the greater the effectiveness of the vaccine,” Gershoni said. “The virus takes far reaching measures to hide its RBM from the human immune system, but the best way to ‘win the war’ is to develop a vaccine that specifically targets the virus’s RBM.”

   “Gershoni originally developed the design of the vaccine which targets the RBM in response to SARS CoV, which broke out in 2004, and later for MERS CoV. “What we found was that we were able to reconstitute, to create a functional Receptor Binding Motif, and that’s when we filed for patent in 2015,” he explained to the Jerusalem Post.

     “We are now currently working on implementing the design of the vaccine that we were able to construct for SARS and MERS and to apply it to the current virus, the SARS coronavirus 2,” he continued. “This is a multi-step process. We’ve completed, I would say, about two-thirds of the way.”  

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital