The race is on to develop safe and efficient vaccines to address the global coronavirus pandemic. What are the latest advancements? How effective are the vaccines currently available? What impact will emerging strains of the virus have?
Earlier this semester, the CEO of Abogen Biosciences – one of the companies behind China’s first vaccine candidate approved for clinical trials – delivered the first lecture in the new talk series of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s Wisdom Lake Academy of Pharmacy, offering answers to these questions and more.
In front of an intimate audience in January, Dr Bo Ying shared his experience in developing an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 in China and offered valuable insight into future developments.
“I would like to share with the public what we know about coronavirus vaccines and to work with XJTLU in bringing the cutting-edge technologies and research into the classroom,” Dr Ying said during the event.
He introduced the audience to the technologies behind vaccine development and the advantages and disadvantages of the major methods and platforms available.
In addition, he provided an overview of the clinical phases of COVID-19 vaccines and the prominent companies around the world making them.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, Dr Ying and his team set out to develop a vaccine. By June 2020, Abogen Biosciences in cooperation with the Institute of Military Medicine in the Academy of Military Sciences and Walvax Biotechnology had co-developed an mRNA vaccine for the coronavirus – ARCoV. After approval from the State Food and Drug Administration of China, it became the first mRNA vaccine in China to enter the clinical phase – a significant breakthrough.
During the lecture, Dr Ying also took questions from the audience with many people asking about the safety of getting vaccinated and how variants will influence vaccine development.
“There are two mRNA vaccines in the market that have been authorised by the United States Food and Drug Administration since December 2020 for urgent use. Concerning their long-term safety, I believe we need to observe for a longer period before coming to a conclusion,” he said.
“As for virus variants – such as the United Kingdom and South Africa strains we have seen recently – a truly effective vaccine tends to works on multiple variants, including possible variants that might appear in the future.”
Professor Youmin Xi, executive president of XJTLU, said hosting Dr Ying was an extraordinary event for the University community and highlighted the early success of XJTLU 3.0 and its flagship academic offering, the Wisdom Lake Academy of Pharmacy.
“Our aim as an institution is work with the society we exist in; to seek a variety of resources and expertise from the wider community; and to foster an industry ecology that revolves around education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship,” Professor Xi said.
“While we can’t physically accommodate many people on campus due to the pandemic, we hope the live recording will still be able to provide the wider community with a better understanding of vaccines and how they are developed.”
Wisdom Lake Academy of Pharmacy, executive director, Professor Mu Wang (pictured below, left) said the public talks will be held regularly with a focus on two key themes – medicine frontiers and popular science.
To view Dr Ying’s lecture, click here or scan the QR code below.
By Bo Kou Translated by Boqiang Xiao