Vaccine prospects for COVID-19: learnings from a 40-year biotech journey that’s still in progress

Guest Commentary: Why the first vaccines for COVID-19 may not turn out to be the best

I have been in biotech research one way or another for over 40 years. This strange time of quarantine and self-isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak has given me time to reflect on how lessons from past vaccine programs bear on the current moment.

While it’s been rewarding to see many of the technologies I grew up with leading to vaccine candidates against the new virus, what’s often missing from the conversation is a discussion of antigen selection and the quality of the immune response required to confer meaningful protection.

Questions such as “will vaccines using just the spike protein be sufficient to induce protective immunity,” whether delivered as DNA, RNA or as a subunit protein-based vaccine; and “will it be necessary to use live attenuated or killed whole virus-based approaches to obtain the best and most protective immune responses” have been

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