Coronavirus: “In the development of the vaccines of the COVID-19 there has been nothing that has stopped doing”

The arrival of a vaccine against COVID-19 seems closer and closer, but many unknowns still remain. The Dr. Jaime Jesús Pérez, member of coordination with Scientific Societies of the Spanish Association of Vaccination, has attended the AS newspaper to try to solve some of those doubts and talk about this issue that may be key to ending the pandemic.

– What feelings does the news that are coming out about the efficacy of various vaccines that are being developed by different pharmaceutical companies leave you?

– There have been three news stories in a very short time and all three are positive. We lack things to know and they are press releases that the companies have sent, they are not the drug agencies, which give you reliability in the data. But, in principle, both Pfizer and Moderna are very prestigious companies and it seems that they are not going to play with an issue that in a very short time they will have to pass to drug agencies and subject them to scrutiny. So I think the data is real and very positive.

– Can the arrival of a vaccine be the final blow to end the pandemic or will it be necessary to continue with many precautions?

– Efficiencies of around 95% in a vaccine are very high efficiencies and can change a landscape for you. Will the pandemic end? Well, probably not, but we will move on to a disease control scenario. It does not mean that the virus is going to disappear, but we can move to a different scenario where all the damage caused by this pandemic is reduced.

“With the vaccine, the pandemic will probably not end, but we will move to a disease control scenario”

Dr. Jaime Jesús Pérez, Spanish Association of Vaccination

– In Pfizer’s, one of the biggest setbacks can be in the temperature at which it has to be kept?

– This is like when we go to eat at a new cuisine restaurant, they are small quantities and you have to eat everything to avoid being hungry. Here we will not be able to choose, what reaches us and that they are authorized. For that, a vaccine will always be effective and safe. Maybe in a year we have the possibility to choose, but now what we want and is more important is to have doses because the difference between the effectiveness of one and the other is very small. If Pfizer’s is shown to be safe and efficient, logistics will adapt so that it can be preserved.

If Moderna’s arrives, we will adapt to your logistics and if Pfizer’s arrives, the same. In the end, we are a country that has means and those of Pfizer come in ‘thermos boxes’, we could say. By changing the dry doses every five days, you can keep them for 15 days. We have the capacity to do that and before that term is up to have all the vaccines administered, which is the key.

“We have the ability to adapt to Pfizer’s vaccine storage media”

Dr. Jaime Jesús Pérez, Spanish Association of Vaccination

– Another good news is that Johnson & Johnson will begin phase 3 clinical trials in Spain …

– It’s good news, what happens takes time. To give us an idea, the other two we’re talking about began their phase 3 clinical trials at the end of June. They have taken almost four months to have data. It is clear that by 2021 we will have an important signal in terms of the number of vaccines, if the data is confirmed.

– Is this competition that we are seeing in the race to achieve the vaccine good?

– Competition is always good, we are talking about very short deadlines. However, this is a race against the pandemic to begin to alleviate this.

– Would you be sure that a vaccine would arrive in Spain by the beginning or spring of 2021, as Health has announced?

– Hopefully. All administrations are working to achieve this as soon as possible. Those are ambitious dates, but we have never faced a public health problem of this magnitude with the scientific-technical level that is currently available. Things that were impossible until yesterday, today seem easy. Personally, I think it may be risky to talk about those dates, but I have some confidence that this can happen.

“I think it may be risky to speak of early 2021 as the date for the arrival of the vaccine, but I have some confidence that that can happen.”

Dr. Jaime Jesús Pérez, Spanish Association of Vaccination

– Who should be vaccinated first?

To the people who are suffering the most from this: those who are in nursing homes, which register a significant percentage of deaths.

– Do you understand people who do not want to be vaccinated with the first vaccines out of fear?

– The fear of the unknown is something that we human species carry with us. For this, it would be necessary to turn to informing the population so that this fear of the unknown does not exist. However, we must tell people that there has been no jump in time and there has been nothing that has been left out, no matter how quickly they can be removed. The clinical trials have been carried out as is usually done, but with a large investment in resources and faster, without ‘downtime’ between one phase and another … We are in a situation where the important thing is to get protection. It should also be noted that there is always a percentage of the population that is more reluctant to vaccines and other measures, but they will end up demanding it, if all goes well.

Pfizer, for example, has announced that they are going to develop 50 million doses at first and that would never have been done without authorization. But, a lot has been invested because the most that can be lost is money, which in this special situation is not the most important thing.

– Knowing if immunity develops in patients who have passed COVID-19 and how long is essential for the vaccine, right?

– There are diseases that develop better immunity than vaccination, such as measles. Then there are vaccines that protect better against the disease than the disease itself, such as tetanus, meningitis … The consequences of passing these diseases are worse. Here we do not yet know how it will behave, although it does not seem that reinfection is common. And if there is, in these diseases it usually happens with milder symptoms than the original disease. Time will allow us to have more tools and knowledge to fight the virus …

“There has been a lot of demand for the flu vaccine, which has not been fully satisfied, despite the fact that 50% more doses were purchased”

Dr. Jaime Jesús Pérez, Spanish Association of Vaccination

– What response is the flu vaccination campaign having, taking into account the context we are in?

– The demand is being tremendous. Spain has bought 50% more doses than it usually buys and, despite this, it has not been able to satisfy all the demand.