May 13, 2021

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A citizen’s guide to viruses

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Although the immune system has a myriad of defenses, they don’t always do the job. This is where vaccines come in. The book explains technologies such as attenuated vaccines, which consist of a weakened virus or bacteria; vaccines based on killed pathogens; and subunit vaccines, which contain a fragment of a pathogen. The first to be successful against SARS-Cov-2 was a promising new type of subunit vaccine made from RNA that encodes a viral protein.

The authors are optimistic about the covidus vaccines, especially since SARS-Cov-2 does not mutate as quickly as RNA viruses such as HIV and influenza. Antiviral drugs are also a promising strategy, including older drugs such as remdesivir and dexamethasone. “When covid-19 first appeared, many doctors were really unprepared to treat it. But over the months we’ve gotten a lot more familiar with what’s going on and we have a better idea of ​​how to deal with these issues, ”says Shaw.

In addition to educating the public about immunity, vaccines, therapies, and epidemiology, Chakraborty and Shaw want to inspire young people to pursue related careers and provide policy makers with insight into how to fight viral epidemics. Strategies they envision include improving early diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance and modeling; create more targeted approaches to vaccine and drug development; make vaccine manufacturing more flexible; and make living spaces, workplaces and hospitals safer. They call for partnerships between government, the pharmaceutical industry and academia to take these steps, with the help of government investments.

“With our history of battles against viruses and recent lessons learned from the covid-19 pandemic,” they write, “we need to create an integrated system of technologies that will help us prepare to respond faster and more effectively the next time. . ”

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