Vaccines developed against the coronavirus will be safe and the current epidemic can only be overcome with them, professor of virology Ferenc Jakab pointed out and said that future pandemics will also be triggered by pathogens transmitted from animals to humans, so the research of these has to be given higher priority in the future.
"I would be the first person to apply for the vaccine as I am absolutely in favour of vaccination”,
the head of the virus laboratory at the János Szentágothai Research Centre of the University of Pécs, Professor Ferenc Jakab answered when he was asked about the coronavirus vaccine after his lecture on the occasion of the Celebration of Hungarian Science presented by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
The professor added that vaccine developments are being carried out with due care, so he would not be afraid to receive either the Russian or the Chinese vaccine, as they are all produced using well-known and well-tried technologies. According to him, we can count on an effective and accessible vaccine to be available in Hungary early next year.
“We need to forget about anti-vaccination; I’ll ask everyone to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available”, he said.
Answering a question by növekedés.hu the virology professor also said that the roughly 180 vaccines currently being developed, including the 6 that are in the homestretch already, will probably be suitable for protection against the currently known mutations, too.
Every biological system keeps changing, he added, so does this virus, but as long as this continuous change does not lead to a functional change, i.e. it does not affect how the virus binds to cells, or has no impact on its infectivity, the mutation is not more than a simple letter change in the genetic stock of the virus.
SARS-CoV-2 is a relatively stable virus, and no drastic changes that would significantly affect vaccine tests are to be seen yet. The variability of the coronavirus is not nearly as big as that of the influenza virus.
In connection with the Covid-19 epidemic, Ferenc Jakab emphasized the fact that if people's behaviour does not change, we must be prepared for a new age of epidemics. Due to globalization, urbanization, and the tremendous amount of travel, pathogens that previously caused disease only in isolated hotspots infecting relatively few people, can now spread very quickly and trigger a pandemic.
Most of these are caused by viruses circulating in the animal world, which can also be transmitted from animals to humans. These are called zoonotic diseases, which cause epidemics from time to time, but these are curbed right away. About 60 percent of human diseases are zoonotic, three-quarters of them are new or re-invasive infections, 80 percent of which are potential biological weapons. A textbook example of a zoonotic disease is the coronavirus, which circulates mainly among bats but was already found to have infected humans in a 2018 American study.
At that time, however, it did not reach the point when it could be transmitted from human to human. Regarding whether it is possible to foresee which animal-borne virus may be the potential cause of the next pandemic, Ferenc Jakab stated that such research is being carried out all over the world, also in Pécs. The current pandemic is the test of how the world’s research institutes can work together when it comes to handling a crisis. In this case, however, the main goal is prevention, he added.