Interview with the creator of the Spanish vaccine against coronavirus: “Argentina could be one of the first countries to have it”

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It’s the microbiologist Pere-Joan Cardona. Your vaccine will be tested in our country, in health personnel. We talk to him. And this he told us.

“Argentina could be one of the first countries in which the vaccine against Covid-19 enters,” he tells Clarion Pere-Joan Cardona, the microbiologist who invented the Spanish vaccine against the coronavirus, whose clinical trial will be carried out in Argentina.

Cardona is a researcher at the Microbiology Service of the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital in Badalona, ​​in Catalonia, and hopes to have the results of the trial that will be carried out in about 400 Argentine toilets within nine months.

Cardona agreed with Waldo Belloso, the doctor who will conduct the clinical trial in Argentina, the selection criteria of the people who, in a random way, will receive without knowing the vaccine or a similar but ineffective drug, that is, a placebo.

“The conditions that we discussed for the trial is that it involves personnel who work in a health center, who are not infected, who do not suffer from any immunosuppression and who are in contact with patients infected by coronavirus,” says Cardona about his exchange with Belloso , who is head of the Area of ​​Clinical Research with External Sponsorship of the Research Department of the Italian Hospital from Buenos Aires.

-Why is your vaccine, which is Spanish, going to be tested in Argentina?

-I was the inventor of the vaccine but in the whole technology transfer process there is the involvement of private companies and here the connection is with the CEO of RUTI Inmune, which is the company that runs it, who studied here in Catalonia but he was born in Argentina. He had his connections.

-What is the reason why the test is going to be applied in health personnel?

-To facilitate the logistics of the trial. As it is a first test, it is always easier to offer it to health personnel by proximity, by ability to understand the study. At first it was also thought that they were the population most at risk of contagion, although this point is not so clear now.

-Your vaccine is originally against tuberculosis. How does a vaccine adapt to another virus?

-It does not adapt. Here what is rediscovered is the mechanism of action that this vaccine has, which is not normally taken into account, which is the ability to stimulate innate immunity.

-What kind of immunity is that?

-It’s the one that arrives first, at minute zero, when there is an infectious focus. This is not normally sought in a vaccine.

-What do you pay attention to when testing a vaccine?

-In general, it is sought to be very specific for a specific pathogen since in this way it is more efficient. But there is this component of stimulating the innate immunity of monocytes, of these white cells that reach the point of infection at minute zero, which is normally not taken into account. It is a mechanism that began to work about 5 years ago and that involves an epigenetic modification of the stem cells of these monocytes and, therefore, gives a certain memory, of about two years. It is a less important memory than the immunity normally sought with vaccines. Surely the efficiency will also be lower but, on the other hand, we also have this broad spectrum: that it can act against different pathogens. It is what we are looking for here. In fact, when the studies began with BCG, which is the tuberculosis vaccine that is currently on the market, the intention was to give this vaccine waiting for a more powerful specific vaccine to come out.

-How much does the clinical study influence a population like Argentina where BCG is included in the mandatory vaccination schedule and is the first one we receive at birth?

-In principle it does not influence. Normally BCG occurs when one is born and, therefore, although it is said that the specific immunity can be as long as 10 years, the immunity that we are looking for, which is called “trained”, lasts about two or three years.

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