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Researchers Flag Risk of Vaccine Enhancement Due to Rushing Attempts to Find One on Coronavirus

Drug producers are working as quickly as possible to find a vaccine to fight the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has contracted over 100,000 people globally.

Researchers Flag Risk of Vaccine Enhancement Due to Rushing Attempts to Find One on Coronavirus

Behind the scenes, medical experts are concerned that rushing a vaccine may result in worsening the infection in some sufferers rather than stopping it.

Studies have recommended that coronavirus vaccines carry the risk of vaccine enhancement, where instead of protecting against an infection, the vaccine can make the illness worse when a vaccinated person is infected with the coronavirus.

The mechanism that inflicts that risk is not entirely understood and is one of the hindrances that has stopped the successful development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Usually, scientists would take several months to test for the possibility of vaccine enhancement in animals. Given the need to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, some drug producers are moving directly into small-scale human tests, without awaiting the completion of such animal tests.

Hotez worked on the development of a vaccine for SARS, the coronavirus behind a major 2003 epidemic, and found that some vaccinated animals developed a more severe illness compared with unvaccinated animals when they had been exposed to the pathogen.

Hotez testified last week before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in regards to the need for sustained funding for vaccine research.

At least for now, the world’s experts have admitted that accelerated testing is a risk worth taking.

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Felicia Broderick

Felicia is the head of the column Medical Devices. An Electronics Engineer from the University of Michigan, Felicia, before opting for technical writing as a profession, worked at firms such as SEH, Leviton, etc. In 2016, she quit her job at Leviton and started taking writing projects as a freelancer. Gradually, she developed an interest in technical writing, and now leading a column here.

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