Richard Hatchett, Health News, ET HealthWorld
The Covid-19 the virus is continuing to evolve and we don’t have vaccines that are very good at blocking transmission, Richard Hatchettchief executive officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (cepitold ET in an interview. Hatchett said climate change has raised the risk of pandemic outbreaks and countries shouldn’t lose sight of preventing them. Edited excerpts,
What is the status of Covid-19?
I think the worst of Covid is behind us. But the virus is continuing to evolve. And currently we don’t have vaccines that are very good at blocking transmission. We have vaccines that are good at preventing people from dying, which is great. But there’s still a high level of virus circulating in populations and every new person infected is an opportunity (for the virus) to mutate and change, and at some point, potentially to get to change enough to become lethal.
Is CEPI looking at vaccines that block Covid-19 transmission?
So looking forward with respect to coronavirus vaccines, I think we need two things — I think we need vaccines that fight transmission so that we can just reduce the level of Covid disease. Also, we need vaccines that protect people, at least from severe disease or death caused by a broad range of coronaviruses. What we’ve seen over the last three or four decades is that just about every decade, a new coronavirus emerges.
What about intranasal vaccines like Bharat Biotech‘s Incovacc which seem to have potential to block transmission?
I haven’t seen the publication (of data). I don’t think the data for this vaccine is widely published. So it’s a little bit hard to assess how they’re doing in terms of blocking transmission. And I think we would need to develop specialized protocols where we can actually do challenge studies, vaccinate people, and then actually challenge them with very mild or attenuated forms of coronavirus and see if they actually do block transmission. And we’ll get there.
CEPI has been working on Disease X, where you want to support rapid response platforms…How do you crunch the development timelines?
There are multiple learnings from Covid that make us think this is possible. One is that we have a whole new suite of vaccine tools in the form of mRNA and the other platforms. We have innovated with trial designs, and regulators have gained a lot of experience around the world, making rapid regulatory decisions.