35 minutes | Feb 17, 2021

9. The New Variant Drama

In this ninth episode, we'll tackle the different conundrums we face with the emergence of new and highly transmissible SARS-COV-2 variants. Get ready to delve into some thought provoking scientific concepts when it comes to how this virus appears to be evolving and where we stand with our current and future vaccination goals. The episode parses out the most worrisome mutations, how they were able to evolve and why they are such a concern. Experts talk about recent data from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, which are tell tale signs of the issues we have ahead. They also discuss where our currently authorized vaccines - Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca -- stand to combat the new variants. We'll explore what manufactures are doing to keep up with new mutations and the various challenges in chasing a moving target. While experts agree that this will probably not be a once in a lifetime vaccination, they make comparisons to seasonal influenza and remain debated on how often we might need to revaccinate. Finally, experts discuss the best approach forward with both the vaccines and prudent social behaviors to ensure that we don't lose this pandemic battle due to complacency. Expert Guests Dr Mary-Louise McLaws is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of New South Wales and is also a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19. Dr Monica Gandhi is Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief (Clinical Operations/Education) of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at University California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. Dr Nikolai Petrovsky is Professor of Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide and vice-president and secretary-general of the International Immunomics Society. He is the founder of vaccine biotech, Vaxine, which has a protein based candidate in early development for Covid-19. Verity Hill is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh and is currently completing her PhD using genomic epidemiology to study the spread of Ebola in West Africa. She has authored a number of papers on the evolution of SARS-COV2 with the world's top researchers in the field. For timestamps and more info on the series go to https://thecovaxfiles.com
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