Fool.com's Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina interviewed Richard Horton on Motley Fool Live on Oct. 9. Horton runs the British medical journal The Lancet and has been at the forefront of publishing data about the coronavirus pandemic this year. He also recently published a book called The COVID-19 Catastrophe.
Here, Horton explains why the mRNA vaccine candidates being developed by Pfizer (PFE -0.61%) and BioNTech (BNTX -3.18%), and Moderna (MRNA -0.18%) would be important technological advancements.
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Cardina: Talking about all the different vaccine candidates that we'll have data coming up soon, I'm curious about and I think our readers are curious, too, or viewers. We've gotten a couple of questions. When you look at the vaccines that are in phase 3, are there any that are taking a particular approach that you think is most compelling, whether it's mRNA, DNA, weakened virus? Any thoughts on that?
Horton: That's a hotly debated subject. Some of the, shall we say, fancier vaccines, that's the mRNA vaccines, I mean, they are technologically the most advanced, but some people believe that may be the good old-fashioned approach might be less exciting, technically, the science may not be as advanced, but actually they might work more effectively. That's the inactivated viral vaccines. That's a big, big debate. Is it the smart science that's going to win or is it the tried and tested rather old-fashioned, decades old approach? Another debate is over what's called the adenoviral vectors. One way of getting immunity is you basically stick parts of the coronavirus onto another virus, what's called an adenovirus, and if you give those two adjunct together, then the adenovirus is very effective at getting the coronavirus into the human body. Now the debate is, what sort of adenovirus should you have? The Oxford Group have used a chimpanzee adenovirus, the Russian group have used a human adenovirus, and the Russian team has been very vocal about saying that the human adenovirus is going to be a much more effective vector means of getting the coronavirus antigen into the human body. We don't know. These are speculations at the moment, and it's going to take us until the end of the year to find out the answer.