The Biggest Difference Between a Vaccine and a Treatment

Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency – Getty Images

From Men’s Health

As the coronavirus continues to shake the country without proven medications to fight the novel disease, doctors and scientists are racing for a breakthrough in developing both vaccines and treatments.

But as dozens of COVID-19 vaccines enter advanced clinical trial stages and the FDA approves possible treatment drugs (such as Remdesivir) and continues to review others, we’ve noticed that there’s confusion around what a vaccine does and what a treatment does.

The biggest difference between a vaccine and a treatment is that one is designed to prevent, while the other is designed to treat or cure. Both, however, would be beneficial when it comes to preventing and managing COVID-19.

Vaccines: What they are and what they do

A vaccine is a product that stimulates the immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease without you ever having to get the disease first, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, the flu shot is a vaccination that works to prevent a person from getting sick from influenza by rallying the immune system against the viruses that cause the flu.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men’s Health

Treatments: What they are and what they do

Treatments, on the other hand, come into play after an individual is already sick. They work to help those that are sick survive and recover.

Dr. Davey Smith, head of the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Health at UC San Diego, says that while vaccines for COVID-19 are important, treatments are still crucial. “The FDA said they will approve a coronavirus that works 50 percent of the time,” he explains. “I still have a 50% chance of getting sick. And I really need to have a [treatment] that’s going to keep me from getting sicker and perhaps dying.”

Ultimately, establishing both vaccines and treatments during the pandemic is vital as COVID-19 continues to spread.

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As STAT turns 5, a look back at science and medicine’s biggest headlines

The past five years have been packed with medical and scientific advances, a series of public health crises that have gripped the world, and uproar over rising prescription drug costs.

They’ve also been a heck of a time to launch a publication about health and medicine.

As STAT celebrates its five-year anniversary, our reporters took a look back at six areas we’ve covered closely — CRISPR, infectious disease, the opioid crisis, drug pricing, AI in medicine, and cell and gene therapy — to recap the biggest headlines and controversies and cast an eye to what may lie ahead.

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Breaker for 5 year

CRISPR: A Nobel, He Jiankui’s bombshell, and an ugly patent fight

Even before STAT published its first stories, we knew CRISPR would be big: Breakthrough scientific papers in 2012 and early 2013 showed that this technique for changing the DNA of plants and animals was so easy to use that labs across the world would seize on it to understand basic biological processes as well as develop cures for genetic diseases. That’s why my first story for STAT profiled one of CRISPR’s inventors, biologist Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute. Check out his “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” analogy.

Sure enough, just five years later, CRISPR became Nobel big: Earlier this month, biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors. The award was the first science Nobel won by two women.

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What I never suspected was how fast a CRISPR nightmare might come true, how agonizingly long drug development takes, and what an ugly fight over patents CRISPR would spawn.

CRISPR’s inventors knew from the get-go that it would be theoretically possible to use the technique to alter the genes of human embryos, creating “designer babies.” That seemed like something a rogue researcher might try in, oh, 10 years. Yet there I was in Hong Kong in November 2018, at the second international conference on human genome editing, when China’s He Jiankui dropped his bombshell: He’d CRISPR’d human embryos, resulting in the birth of twin, genetically altered girls. That ignited a firestorm of condemnation and hand-wringing that the global scientific community hadn’t tried hard enough to stop him.

Also in the hand-wringing category: The fight over CRISPR patents between the Broad Institute and the University of California has been an eye-opener with its legal costs (well into eight figures; think of the science that would buy), ugly accusations, and sheer persistence.

Two happier CRISPR surprises: significant improvements on the original technique and the growing list of human diseases it might treat or cure, if success in lab mice is any indication.

With several companies as well as academic scientists already using CRISPR in clinical trials, one message from 2015 has stuck: CRISPR might actually live up to its hype, becoming the powerhouse genetic cure scientists dreamed of.

— Sharon Begley

Breaker for 5 year

Infectious disease: From

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To Find a Coronavirus Vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline Is Bonding With Its Biggest Competitors

The Covid-19 pandemic is turning some fierce drug-industry foes into the best of frenemies.

The pharmaceutical giant standing at the center of this team of rivals is

GlaxoSmithKline


GSK 0.57%

PLC, the world’s largest vaccine maker by sales. The British company is jointly developing a Covid-19 antibody drug with a San Francisco upstart, offering rivals a proprietary ingredient that is designed to boost a vaccine’s power and planning to share research study results.

“We felt this very unusual situation required something that GSK hadn’t done before, and something we hadn’t seen in the industry before either,” says Roger Connor, president of Glaxo’s vaccines business.

What makes Glaxo’s collaboration so unusual is that competition typically defines the relationship among drugmakers. Company researchers race to be first to bring a new kind of therapy to market or work on treatments that can outdo older medicines, while marketers roll out campaigns designed to boost sales at the expense of rivals.

In the age of Covid-19, old adversaries are uniting around a common enemy: the new coronavirus. Their nascent partnership is now visible in everything from trials to research to manufacturing. Glaxo and eight other pharmaceutical firms even took the rare step of issuing a joint pledge last month to seek regulatory approvals for their vaccines only after proving their safety and effectiveness in large, final-stage clinical trials.

How far along each of the vaccines are

Testing stages typically move from ‘preclinical,’ before the vaccine is deemed appropriate to test in people, to the three phases of human clinical trials.

So far, 44 candidates have made it to clinical trials.

Type of vaccine

Viral vector

Ten of these have advanced into phase 3, which tests whether the dose that would be given to the public works safely.

The most common area of cooperation thus far is manufacturing. Some longtime rivals are striking deals to stretch their capacity to meet anticipated demand. Roche Holding AG is helping manufacture an antiviral drug in development by rival Regeneron.

Amgen Inc.

will help make

Eli Lilly

& Co.’s antiviral drugs if the treatments are authorized by regulators.

Pfizer

has dedicated manufacturing capacity to turning out doses of remdesivir, an antiviral made by rival

Gilead Sciences Inc.

The camaraderie also extends to the traditionally cutthroat realm of research.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

scientists contributed to research on a vaccine in development by

BioNTech SE

and Pfizer Inc., and were co-authors on a paper this summer detailing the results. In another rare move,

Merck

& Co.’s research and development chief called his Glaxo counterpartment in April to pass along a tip that one of Glaxo’s molecules showed promise in Merck’s Covid-19 lab tests.

Glaxo’s most prominent contribution to this new era of collaboration is its decision to share a proprietary vaccine component known as an adjuvant—an ingredient that helps boost a vaccine’s protective power by rousing the body’s immune response. Glaxo now has agreements to supply that ingredient to four vaccine developers, including French drugmaker

Sanofi SA,

and stands ready to

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Pfizer Sets Up Its ‘Biggest Ever’ Vaccination Distribution Campaign

In Kalamazoo, Mich., a stretch of land the size of a football field has been turned into a staging ground outfitted with 350 large freezers, ready to take delivery of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine before they can be shipped around the world.

The facility is a hub in the sprawling supply chain

Pfizer Inc.

has built to handle the delivery of a vaccine widely awaited as a possible relief from the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. pharmaceutical giant says it wants to deliver up to 100 million doses this year and another 1.3 billion in 2021.

Like other drugmakers testing potential vaccines, Pfizer is urgently laying the groundwork with its logistics partners so it can move quickly if its vaccine gets the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators around the world.

“It’s the biggest-ever vaccination campaign,” said Tanya Alcorn, Pfizer’s supply-chain vice president. “If we get the FDA approval, we will be able to ship the vaccines very shortly after.”

The New York-based drugmaker is working with Germany’s

BioNTech SE

on one of several experimental Covid-19 vaccines in late-stage testing. Pfizer says it may know whether its vaccine works by the end of October and that it could be ready to apply for emergency-use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine by late November.

The company’s effort to deliver relief to pandemic-weary populations will revolve around refrigerated storage sites at two of the company’s final assembly centers—the Kalamazoo facility and another in Puurs, Belgium—and rely on dozens of cargo-jet flights and hundreds of truck trips every day. Distribution centers in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and in Karlsruhe, Germany, have been outfitted for extra storage capacity.

Pfizer so far has spent about $2 billion on developing the vaccine and setting up the distribution network.

The U.S. government placed an initial order for 100 million doses, with the option to purchase 500 million additional doses. The EU ordered 200 million doses with an option for another 100 million. Japan ordered 120 million doses and the U.K. 30 million. Countries in South America and in the Asia-Pacific region also have placed significant orders.

In a typical vaccination campaign, pharmaceutical companies would wait until their product is approved before buying raw materials, establishing manufacturing lines and setting up supply chains to ship a vaccine.

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said that the company began setting the groundwork for its supply chain in March, when it kicked off its vaccine development.

“Ensuring over a billion people globally have access to our potential vaccine is as critical as developing the vaccine itself,” he said.

Pfizer says it is preparing for distribution in case the vaccine wins authorization, with hundreds of thousands of doses already in the company’s warehouses in the U.S. and Europe.

Cool Box

To make sure its Covid-19 vaccine doses arrive at hospitals and clinics frozen and potent, Pfizer created

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Gottlieb says “biggest wave” of coronavirus infections still to come

Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Sunday that the current wave of new coronavirus infections is likely to be the “biggest wave” the nation experiences before a vaccine.



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“We’re going to have to endure this wave of spread right now,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “And it’s probably likely to be the biggest wave that we endure without the benefit of a vaccinated population.”

There have been more than 8.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, and the death toll is approaching 220,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations are rising in 42 states, and 45 states have expanding epidemics, Gottlieb said.

“There’s really no backstop against the spread that we’re seeing,” he said, adding that this is the “most difficult phase of this epidemic.”

Gottlieb said the current uptick in coronavirus infections is occurring as states have left measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus, including requiring masks in public and indoors, encouraging social distancing and limiting the number of people in restaurants and bars.

Gottlieb says “biggest wave” of coronavirus infections still to come

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“If we weren’t taking those steps, if people weren’t wearing masks generally and some states weren’t adhering to some mitigation tactics and we weren’t testing and tracing, then we’d have much worse spread,” he said.

The latest surge in coronavirus cases comes as millions prepare to go to the polls for early voting or to cast their ballots on November 3, though election officials are encouraging voters to vote by mail or develop a plan to ensure they can cast their votes safely.

Gottlieb said precautions are being taken at polling places and warned the “biggest risks” are settings where people are more comfortable and may let their guards down.

“When you talk to the governors about where the spread is occurring, it’s occurring in congregate settings where people feel more comfortable, a local Elks Club, a large family gathering,” he said. 

While coronavirus infections are rising, President Trump has returned to the campaign trail, holding large rallies with thousands in attendance, many of whom have not worn masks. Mr. Trump himself was diagnosed with the coronavirus this month and spent three days being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Gottlieb said the actions from the Trump campaign are “problematic” and questioned what the strategy from the White House is to combat the spread of the coronavirus. 

“They’ve come out against universal masking. They’ve come out against testing asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people. They say testing should be reserved just to the vulnerable. They want businesses and schools reopened, as we all do, and they’re against targeted mitigation like closing restaurants,” Gottlieb said of the White House. “There was criticism of New York when New York kept the restaurants closed. So it begs the question, what is the strategy? And I think the

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Biggest Deals On Fitness And Exercise Equipment

With COVID-19 still running rampant across the globe, safe means of exercising has become the norm for most people. This means working out has shifted from public spaces such as gyms or yoga studios to the comfort of people’s homes. If you are planning to start your own home gym, you need to look no further than Prime Day. This mega shopping festival gives you the opportunity to buy some great fitness equipment for your home at some great discounts, so you can start building your home gym right away.

Here are 10 great fitness equipment you can get for your home gym at throwaway prices on Amazon’s Prime Day sale. Whether you want to increase your strength, practice yoga or improve your cardio capacity, we have the right things you can buy during Prime Day here.

1. VIGBODY Stationary Bike for Home Cardio

(photo from amazon.com)

VIGBODY Stationary Bike for Home Cardio has a robust heavy steel frame and a triangular structure that supports up to 330 pounds in body weight. It works with a leather transmission belt instead of a chain that results in a quiet workout. You can enjoy an outdoor riding experience even at home. Its 4-way adjustable seat and 2-way adjustable handlebar offer a comfortable experience while exercising. The adjustable nature of this bike makes it perfect for all members of your family.

2. LEEKEY Resistance Band Set

(photo from amazon.com)

LEEKEY Resistance Band Set comes with four bands that are made of natural latex material, which has strong wear resistance and can withstand extreme tensile force. You can train with no worries of wear and tear with these excellent bands. They offer excellent resistance while doing pull-ups. The bands also work for anyone who needs to stretch out sore muscles after a workout and stiff ones for before. They are a perfect addition to your home gym and easy to carry in your duffle bag when you go to a fitness center for a workout, too.

3. BEAUTYOVO Puzzle Exercise Mat

(photo from amazon.com)

BEAUTYOVO Puzzle Exercise Mat is made up of all-black foam floor mats that interlock together. Once assembled, they cover about 96 square feet. You can also safely use them as an indoor playground for kids. The mats are made of flexible and impact resistant Eva foam that has thick padding to provide excellent cushioning for your body or equipment. The thick mats safeguard your floor from scratches, scuffs and dents. 

4. Tone Fitness Aerobic Step 

(photo from amazon.com)

Tone Fitness Aerobic Step is light-weight and easy to carry, weighing in at just 5. 5 pounds. The step offers a secure, non-slip surface for your workout routine and is adjustable for two height levels of 4-inches or 6-inches. It includes a workout chart to provide additional instructions and exercises for you. The step can be used by people of all levels to help build endurance, strength and improve overall fitness. It comes in two colors: neon yellow and black.

5. ProsourceFit

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