PhysBio Scientific Director Andrey Kabashin: how vaccines can end Covid-19 pandemic

The vaccination against Covid-19 becomes widespread. More than hundred employees of MEPhI get the vaccine, including university and its various departments’ administration. Data on the safety and effectiveness of the Sputnik-V vaccine as well as on the latest positive results of mass vaccination in Russia and other countries were published in a scientific article in the leading medical journal The Lancet. The autors of article are the vaccine creators, scientists from the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Andrey Kabashin, a Research Director of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the University of Aix-Marseille and a professor of PhysBio MEPhI, told about how scientists create vaccines, what differences have the vaccines, what are the chances of defeating the COVID 19 pandemic

— Vaccines are designed to simulate a pathogen in order to recognizing and finally killing it by immune system. In different vaccines scientific groups use either pathogen which is deactivated (for example, deactivated coronavirus) or its distinctive feature (for example, s-spike), said Professor Andrey Kabashin.  

At the moment, the most popular and perspective is so called vector vaccine; this type of vaccine are produced by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Institute (Sputnik-V), said professor. In case of AstraZeneca and Sputnik-V, scientists use adenovirus as a vector.  Typical adenovirus is responsible for cold disease.  Typically scientists take a fragment of DNA of coronavirus responsible for s-spike generation and incorporate it to DNA matrix of adenovirus. After that, this adenovirus become deactivated, it cannot proliferate the virus. It has only one circle. The task of this circle is bringing genetic information about s-spike into a cell.  Then the cell also generates the s-spikes, organism recognizes these a-spikes and forms antibodies.

Sputnik-V is unique its dual platform: it uses well-matched two types of adenoviruses instead of one as in other vector vaccines. The two types of adenovirus are two vaccinations given several weeks apart. The result is a stronger immune response, which means more effective protection against Covid-19.

Professor said that after he returned from France he decided to be vaccinated with the Sputnik-V and did it immediately together with his parents:

—Russia has three vaccines based on different principles and all experts say that Sputnik V is probably one of the best one. But most of the people in Russia do not go to get vaccination which is amazing for me. People in many countries, even developed ones, would like to be vaccinated, but do not have access to it.

Do we need to be vaccinated if we have already got the coronavirus and have recovered after that? Are there any side effects of vaccination? Can a pandemic end without vaccination? Why is Covid-19 so dangerous? To answer these question, watch full version of interview on the MEPhI Youtube channel: