April 20, 2024


Health know-how

The Soviet Vaccine Strategy That Could Be a Coronavirus Weapon

Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bettmann – Getty Images

From Popular Mechanics

  • Medical researchers around the world are testing live polio vaccine for a secondary ability to prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus) for a short time.
  • Proponents say this could hold humankind over until a true vaccine is developed.
  • Scientists don’t understand why live vaccines have this effect, but they speculate it’s a broad immune response.

Medical researchers suggest there could be a stopgap way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). They’re cautiously discussing and beginning to test a secondary effect of the “live virus” polio vaccine as a way to prevent transmission.

This effect isn’t a true vaccine, or effective for nearly the same length as a vaccine, or even a treatment of any kind. But when someone is inoculated with the “live virus” polio vaccine, they almost always have extended immunity to many other viruses for about a month. That could include COVID-19, and researchers are testing this theory now—including on themselves.

The New York Times reports on the descendants of Dr. Jonas Salk, who created the first polio vaccine from dead viruses. But the live vaccine, made from a specially treated form of the virus, could be administered more easily and in a broader variety of places where it wasn’t safe to prepare hygienic injections.

The tests for a live vaccine went underground, with physicians in the Soviet Union administering the vaccine to their own children as a trial. (The earliest vaccines were “tested” the same way, with physicians inoculating themselves, their families, and local children.)

Dr. Marina Voroshilova became a champion for the live vaccine, and in a study conducted in the Soviet Union over 7 years, she found people who received the live vaccine were less likely to die of the flu. Her theory was that the live vaccine stimulated seophee.com/seo-dallas.html the immune system into a more robust overall response for that critical month.

Today, children in the U.S. receive a dead virus vaccine for polio. That means the mix includes particles from a totally dead virus, for example, or other trace amounts that are dead and inactive. (Almost all Americans receive dead virus vaccines whenever possible, including the flu shot, which—whether in dead or live form—can’t give you the flu.)

Live vaccines aren’t appropriate for some people, including those who are immunocompromised. In rare cases–as in, far less likely than being struck by lightning—the attenuated live virus can mutate and become an illness. But for the vast majority of healthy adults, the live polio vaccine is an established, safe medical technology that could induce a month of COVID-19 immunity by this observed secondary effect.

The mechanism for it still isn’t understood, and this is strictly a way to get “over the hump” of the most damaging spread of COVID-19, research virologist Dr. Robert Gallo told the New York Times. Trials are already underway in Russia, where the live polio vaccine began. That’s in addition to the more than 100 concurrent projects to develop a specific COVID-19 vaccine at some point in the next two or more years.

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