We watch with anticipation as third stage vaccine trials begin for Covid-19 vaccines. It would be great to have a vaccine. There is a vaccine for polio. We don’t think about polio. There is a vaccine for chicken pox. We don’t think about chicken pox. There is a vaccine for measles. Unfortunately, there are people who won’t vaccinate their children. We think about measles. Should children who have not been vaccinated be allowed to attend school?
Let’s hope that when we get a vaccine for Covid-19, we won’t have to think about the disease.
The drug maker, Moderna, appears to be first in line. I looked them up. Its headquarters are in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That’s familiar territory for me. The city is well known for great academic institutions. That’s all positive.
Moderna’s approach to developing a vaccine, it turns out, is unusual. The insert synthetic message RNA into living cells and reprogram the cells to develop immune responses. Apparently, several large pharmaceutical companies have abandoned the technique because of the side effects caused by the use of synthetic message RNA.
Even before Covid-19, the company persisted in its approach, developing a reputation for an unusual degree of secrecy and inhospitality to any employee who questioned the technique the company relies on.
The finances are impressive. Its initial public offering in 2018 was the largest ever for a biotech company. Its CEO is businessman. Its CFO is a banker. The CEO and the Chief Medical Officer have each made a considerable amount of money through the purchase and resale of stock. A former employee described the business as an investment firm that hoped to develop a successful drug.
The vaccine for Covid-19 could be that successful drug.