COVID-19: The Way Forward: Session 1 Q&A

This page will continue to be updated as answers are coordinated to questions submitted during Session 1: COVID-19 Vaccines, Variants, & Evolution.

Question Answer More info
Does cell mediated immunity last longer than humoral? Both are good and last  
How long will the trial patients be followed for long term effects? A few months. Historically, most issues with vaccines arise in 2 months. What we don’t yet know is the long term effectiveness.  
The pandemic has introduced the notion of universal human repercussions for individual nations’ mitigation or lack thereof, and in theory should unite us through a common struggle: do you see this substantiated in how we now operate as individuals, as a nation, and as an international scientific community? Or are there obstacles yet to be surmounted (fear, for example)? Likely there are obstacles, but hopefully something uniting as vaccines and therapeutics become available.  
How will vaccines coming later in the pipeline find a sufficient number of naive participants in Phase 3 randomized trials in the US as the number of vaccinations reach a large portion of the population? Most people in the US (and globally) have not been exposed to the virus. So lots of potential naive participants. *naive participant: In research methodology, a participant or subject who has no previous experience of the procedure, or one who is unaware of the purpose of the research or the hypothesis being tested. In research involving confederates, the term is used to denote a participant who is not one of the confederates.
Is there an advantage of one (or more) of these various types of vaccines in dealing with new strains? mRNA vaccines are likely easier to produce ‘booster’ shots later. Booster shot: An additional dose of a vaccine needed periodically to 'boost' the immune system.
What do you see as the key action steps that we need to take as a society to prevent another (potentially worse) SARS/viral pandemic? We need to stockpile PPE, respirators, and ongoing molecular surveillance for new emerging viruses.  
Are there possible long term unintended consequences of inserting RNA in our cells. No, there are no long term unintended consequences of inserting RNA in our cells.  
Is there any evidence yet about contracting COVID after having the vaccine and being able to transmit to other? This is not yet known, but there is a possibility.  
Given the varied types of vaccines, is it likely that “mixing” the types of vaccines in an individual will potentially impact the transmission of new variants? That is, do they address different aspects of immune response? Can different vaccines serve as booster to new variants? People should stick to one type of vaccine. Later, if they get a booster for new variants, they could get a different type of vaccine. All the vaccines are targeting the coronavirus spike protein.  
What about vaccines developed in Russia, China, and India? Sputnik vaccine from Russia looks promising. It's an engineered adenovirus. While clinical studies are performed differently than in the US, currently it looks good.  
How are there billions of vaccines? The ingredients that are needed to develop the vaccines are in the billions. The scaling needed to develop all of the doses so quickly is astounding.  
Do we have concrete evidence regarding the root of the disease? The natural reservoir for the virus is likely bats. While it is uncertain how it got into humans, it is speculated that there was an animal intermediate.  
How important is it to vaccinate a pregnant patient? Is it to protect the pregnant patient (who may have a more severe disease)? Or the newborn? Or both? It is important to vaccinate the patient for sure, but protecting both is ideal.  
Can you talk about the B117 variant of SARS-CoV-2? The UK variant is the greatest risk this spring.  
Are Pfizer and Moderna vacines continuing through Phase 4? If yes, for how long? They are being tested now for use with children under the age of 18. These clinical studies are ongoing. If all is good, children may be eligible for vaccination at the end of the summer.  
This might be covered, but I'm curious to know why RNA vaccines were developed. Are they more effective and safe than past vaccines? Do other RNA vaccines exist? What is the duration of immunity? This is a new vaccine/therapeutic approach with over 90-95 % protection. These are likely no more safe than other vaccines, generally speaking. The duration of immunity is an open question, but hopefully several years.  
Is there any knowledge if the Moderna / Pfizer vaccine is effective against the new variants? They are effective against the UK variant, but less effective for the South Africa variant.  
I have heard that this was lab created and accidently transmitted, not from a wet market. Thoughts? What evidence exists supports the conclusion that this virus originated from bats, and was not genetically engineered by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  
My understanding is that this mRNA technolgy has been researched for quite a few years and this is really the first serious application of this technology on a large scale. Do you think that this type of vaccine maybe be used more in treating other many other diseases? Yes, definitely.  
I read a story last week that reported that many other endemic diseases including Influenza A, MERS, etc. are appearing at a much lower rate than ever experienced, probably because of the precautions people around the world have taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As the vaccine is rolled out, there will likely be changes in public behavior. Is is possible that the reduced transmission rates for these other diseases could become permanent? The article suggested that we will likely see instead a resurgence of the other endemic diseases because we started spending time in public without the extent of changes we have come to adopt for COVID-19. What do you think will happen? Yes, the flu season here in Minnesota is almost non-existent. It’s because of all the social distancing, which has dramatically reduced the spread of respiratory diseases this winter. As life moves towards returning to ‘normal’, we’ll see more virus spread (as in the past).  
Have viral vector vaccines been used in the past? Yes. Good preclinical data with MERS spike protein existed at the beginning of the pandemic.