GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK COMMENDS THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY FOR UNPRECEDENTED COVID-19 VACCINE ADVANCES

Recommends Large-scale Vaccination To Thwart The Pandemic

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, December 16, 2020:  The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of the world’s preeminent human and animal virologists from 59 Centers of Excellence and 10 Affiliates in 33 countries, working collaboratively in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that cause illness and death, commends the pharmaceutical industry for its unprecedented efforts and advances in developing vaccines to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The wait for a vaccine is over,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, President of GVN and Professor at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine. “We applaud the latest developments in the vaccine rollout and implementation, and we commend the various governmental regulatory agencies around the world that have worked round-the-clock with scientists and pharmaceutical companies in the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. We are particularly gratified that those on the frontlines and the most vulnerable among us will receive first access to the COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr. Bréchot added.

GVN also emphasizes the need to monitor ongoing vaccination programs regarding side effects, duration of protection, potential impact of viral genome mutations and actual impact on transmission of the virus as important findings in the coming days and months. Also GVN emphasizes the need to provide vaccine availability to all countries.

In this context, while news of the vaccine rollout is an uplifting one, the scientists and virologists of the GVN are concerned about anti-vaccination sentiments in the global population. Recent polls in the U.S. suggest that around 25% of respondents claim they will not obtain the vaccines while another 25% indicate that they are only “considering” doing so. These figures are even higher in some parts of Europe.

Though the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 that induces COVID-19 has an overall low mortality rate, more than 75 million people have been affected by this pandemic so far, with 1.6 million deaths globally and over 300,000 deaths in the US[1]. The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the world’s healthcare, economic, sociological, and political infrastructures, and its long-term consequences will be extremely hard to manage, if the general public refrain from getting vaccinated.

Moreover, approximately 30-40% of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 show respiratory problems three months after apparent recovery, and the same holds true for symptoms such as anosmia (loss of smell) or agueusia (loss of taste). Additionally, the mortality rates are significantly higher in older individuals as well as in those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders, among other co-morbidities. In addition to mortality, COVID-19 induces a still underappreciated high rate of pulmonary and vascular disorders which can have long term effects.

In this context, the recent unprecedented progress on vaccines against COVID-19 has provided some initial sense of insight and hope as to how we can contain the pandemic now and in the future. Championed by GVN leadership since the beginning of the pandemic, the concept of innate immunity and non-specific effects of vaccines such as Oral Polio Virus (OPV), measles and BCG vaccines are existing tools that can help bridge gaps until classical vaccines are developed and distributed and can serve to prevent the spread of future viral threats.

“Many of my GVN colleagues and I believe that innate immunity plays an important role in protection against COVID-19, and as such we have taken the live attenuated vaccine of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) to stimulate protection until an effective, long-lasting vaccine is available,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor of the Global Virus Network (GVN). “We would have taken the oral polio vaccine, but it was not widely available. We need to change this.  As soon as this new COVID-19 vaccine is available, I will be taking it alongside not just my colleagues but all my family members as well.”

Finally, GVN, including centers in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America emphasized that curbing the pandemic will take time and that vaccination should not exclude the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding gatherings and frequent hand washing.

[1] Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, coronavirus.jhu.edu., https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

#          #          #          #

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

GVN MEDIA CONTACTS:
Chandrani Raysarkar
Phone: 240-535-1574; Email: [email protected]
Nora Samaranayake
Phone: 410-706-1966; Email: [email protected]