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The Last Pandemic In Human History - Printable Version

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The Last Pandemic In Human History - Bear - 05-09-2021

There's a significant chance that COVID-19 was the very Last Pandemic.  Ever.

We got busy during this ordeal and pushed mRNA vaccines forward from "maybe 20 years from now" to "technology we can use today or any time in the future."  

mRNA vaccines are extremely quick to develop.  We can go from zero to working vaccine in as little as 3 weeks, and that time is likely to get shorter rather than longer.  And they appear to be very general - an effective approach to literally any virus.

It'll take us a few years, probably, to work out best practices, appropriate approval and distribution procedures, but from now on, that arrow is in our quiver and any time some kind of threatening virus shows up, we'll be able to start vaccinations within a few weeks instead of taking a whole damn year - which this one did - or going through a 3-4 year process, which was the only option until now.

So, millions are dead and there's no way to make that better.  But there is a significant chance that this is the last time it happens.  Get out your history books, and write a new page:

The Last Pandemic was discovered in the year 49 AT, killed millions of people in 50 and early 51 AT, and prompted humankind to develop mRNA vaccine technology - preventing subsequent diseases from ever becoming so widespread and threatening as to be 'pandemics' ever again. 

The End of the Age Of Plagues - 51 AT.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - The Astronomer - 05-09-2021

*looks at reality*

yeah gonna press X on this one


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - Rakuen07 - 05-09-2021

Well... Not to be a pessimist but I agree with the Astronomer on this one.

While we did gain a powerful tool to combat future pandemics, time and effort are still required to produce a specific mRNA instruction to deal with future unknown diseases. It may take long enough to produce a vaccine against a future pandemic for it to cause some damage. Especially if the virus that causes the disease mutates and produces a variant which may successfully resist the effects of the mRNA vaccine.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - Tardigrada - 05-09-2021

COVID-19 is still an ongoing pandemic, so it's too early to make a judgement like this.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - selden - 05-09-2021

Where the viral population is high (as in India), I expect there’ll be proportionately as many mutations. Some are going to be resistant to existing vaccines. Some are going to have higher lethality rates and longer gestation periods. The current optimism might not be as justified as we would like.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - Vitto - 05-10-2021

Sorry but  it depends heavily on the ratio of mutations of the virus, just think about the common flu that come  back every year in a different variant or, worst, at HIV, where you usually have multiple strains in a single infected subject costantly mutating.
Airborne trasmission is another crucial factor: ebola is a nightmare to deal with but at least is "just" transmissible with body fluids. If you get an illiness with a 50% mortality like that turning airborne you are in for the end of the world a we know it.

Anyway it can't be denied that going from the DNA sequence of the virus to a vaccine in a year, more or less, is a huge deal compared to the past.


Quote:We can go from zero to working vaccine in as little as 3 weeks, and that time is likely to get shorter rather than longer.

Regulatory procedure at the moment dictates that you need a few months at least just for the setting up and certificatie of the facility where the vaccine is produced: this include everything, from personal, to machinery,  most of the procedure itself, reagents, certification from the reagents vendors, disposal of wastes, etc...
I always think those facilities need more paperstuff than sanitary grade steel in weight Tongue

At the same time you have to go through the 3 initial phases of testing for approval.
The speed to produce a vaccine do not influence in any way this two phases, expecially the second as you can't predict reliably any possible reaction (e.g.: thromboss).


Quote:COVID-19 is still an ongoing pandemic, so it's too early to make a judgement like this.

Actually no: as Bear wrote mRNA based vaccine are developed at an astonishing speed an that already is a testament how things have improved. The bottleneck in the future will be approval, both from the bureocracy and safety for human use, expecially the latter, as I alredy wrote.


Also, these new vaccine are really expensive to produce, I saw estimates up to 23 billions for 3 facilities for Pfizer alone. And there could be quite a few trade secrets involved.
Poor countries won't be able to afford that soon, not minding the qualified staff of know-how.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - iancampbell - 05-10-2021

Another problem with mRNA vaccines is the rather extreme conditions required for storing them - facilities that most Western health centres don't have except for major hospitals, never mind the developing world.

Going on from that, it's an unfortunate fact (for the rest of the world - it's a disaster for India) that new cases in the numbers currently being suffered by India are likely to produce new strains, any one of which may be even worse than the worst currently in circulation.

Personally, I don't think we will be safe before blue goo. One of the better reasons to become multi-planetary. Elon Musk may yet be hailed in the future as the saviour of humanity.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - Bear - 05-10-2021

You know what is in every livestock veterinarian's practice? A liquid-nitrogen dewar for storing and transferring livestock semen at temperatures well below what's required for mRNA vaccines. The capability to do that, and therefore the hardware required, are simply part of the ordinary requirements of the practice. And it's not even a major expense for them; they can order one out of the catalog for a few hundred bucks, and liquid nitrogen, even if they lack the ability to make it, is already cheaper than milk.

mRNA vaccines made the hardware for storing and handling them a part of the ordinary requirements of hospitals starting this year. And the only reason it was at all difficult was because hospitals hadn't needed the capability before and everybody was trying to get it at once. The difficulty with that kind of refrigeration was market forces and speed of manufacturing, not any difficulty inherent in fabrication or function. As mRNA vaccines become more common, and the market for that hardware reaches equilibrium, that's going to be just one more routine piece of equipment, with no good reason to be drastically more expensive than an X-Ray machine.

And while actually performing the work is still expensive, it looks like the IP issues are getting the hell out of the way; Biden is apparently ordering a release of the IP to the world so that nations in need can do it for themselves when they need to. "Lives over profits" was the tagline on the article. With the IP issues done, I'm not convinced that the cost of doing it is so high for any reason relating to inherent difficulty of actually doing it or necessarily expensive components of facilities where it can be done.

Finally, just to be crass, something can't become a pandemic without threatening everybody - which by definition includes wealthy people in powerful countries. If only wealthy people in powerful countries are capable of developing mRNA vaccines, you can still damn well bet that they'll be developing them, immediately, in response to any pandemic. And as long as they fear visitors bringing that disease into their nation, and as long as they can score major diplomacy points by doing so, they will be exporting it, and exporting the power to make it, to everybody else just as fast as they can. In fact, as we are doing right now, starting with Biden's release of the IP.

So, yeah, it won't be a response to every epidemic. If something doesn't threaten a set of people including powerful people in wealthy countries, it may get neglected. But an actual pandemic? We're going to be stomping on those from now on.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - Vitto - 05-10-2021

Quote:You know what is in every livestock veterinarian's practice? A liquid-nitrogen dewar for storing and transferring livestock semen at temperatures well below what's required for mRNA vaccines. The capability to do that, and therefore the hardware required, are simply part of the ordinary requirements of the practice. And it's not even a major expense for them; they can order one out of the catalog for a few hundred bucks, and liquid nitrogen, even if they lack the ability to make it, is already cheaper than milk.

The problem is that for  all those vaccines you gonna need more a room than a small -80°C fridge.

Quote: And while actually performing the work is still expensive, it looks like the IP issues are getting the hell out of the way; Biden is apparently ordering a release of the IP to the world so that nations in need can do it for themselves when they need to. "Lives over profits" was the tagline on the article. With the IP issues done, I'm not convinced that the cost of doing it is so high for any reason relating to inherent difficulty of actually doing it or necessarily expensive components of facilities where it can be done.

It was never an IP issue: just think it from the POW of the  companies: you want to produce as many doses as possible because a vaccine is, hopefully, a one-shot (or two) deal. And competition is not thight, is as brutal as a WWI melee in the trences, with TENS of vaccines at the approval stage and a few already on the market. You have to produce and sell ASAP.
All the facilites that  can produce them are for surely working 24/7 no stop.
And I'd also say that at the moment politician need a lot of scapegoats and the pharmaceutical companies probably fit the role quite well Dodgy



https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2021/02/02/myths-of-vaccine-manufacturing

I leave this article that goes into the more techical aspects of production of vaccines right now. It should be ok for everyone but if you have any doubts I can try to explain them.


RE: The Last Pandemic In Human History - Bear - 05-11-2021

So your biggest motive to not bother developing a vaccine, from the companies' point of view, is that someone else is going to do it first?

Okay, from everybody else's point of view, What's the downside here? If some people don't think they can win the race, that means there's a race. And a race has a winner.

And it doesn't even have to stop at one winner. If the winner of that race is charging too much, it may be cheaper for some nation or even some large corporation to develop it for themselves.

And finally, none of these are processes that are going to get more expensive as tech continues to advance. Costs of production tend to come down, not go up. We spent a decade and billions of dollars on the Human Genome Project, and it was worth it. But we can have our own genomes seqenced for a dozen bucks now.

The question, at this point, is not how hard or how expensive it is to actually do it; the expense now is testing, certification, and grift. Two of these are necessary and subject to continuing improvement. The third is not.