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Covid-19 Vaccine Development: A Promise from Dr. Brad Gibson

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

by Brad 

Covid-19 Vaccine Development: A Promise from Dr. Brad Gibson

Clear Ideas by Rene Magritte

As Nina’s scientific consultant (and husband), I have agreed to help her navigate the incredibly complex and ever-changing efforts in world-wide development of a Covid-19 vaccine. It is astounding to see that there are over 30 vaccine candidates currently in various phases of clinical trials, with more to reach this stage in the upcoming months. Some of these efforts I will not focus on for various reason, as many vaccine candidates are being developed by countries, such as China and Russia, from which information is not especially forthcoming, or in very small companies that are unlikely to be able to reach the capacity for world-wide distribution. But even for those vaccines that I will focus on—the vaccines being developed in the US and Europe—in the US, the timeline for their approval by the Food and Drug Administration has been politicized and undermined by the Trump administration.

It seems now more than ever we need to have clear and unfettered information on the design, efficacy, and safety of these new vaccines. This is especially true given the unprecedented speed at which these vaccines are being developed, even to the point where we have overlapping clinical phases in progress and manufacturing capability being built before FDA approval. While I am not an expert in vaccines, my background in pharmaceutical chemistry and therapeutic drug development gives me a reasonable vantage point to assess what’s fact or fiction, and what looks like a good vaccine that I personally would have no qualms taking. I still remember over 20 years ago when I was working with a company on the design of a vaccine for bacterial meningitis. The director of the program told me that there were three critical issues in a vaccine design I needed to know: safety, safety, and safety! Of course, the vaccine must work, but safety is the primary concern because this will be given to individuals who are currently healthy but who may (or may not) encounter this disease in their future.

So here is my promise to you: I will share whatever information I have in the future about the Covid-19 vaccines being developed that I assess to be serious contenders for safe and effective vaccines and also those that I do not believe to have been adequately vetted for safety. And as I make the decision for myself and my family about which vaccine to take and when, I will share that information with you as well. Many of our friends and relatives have been very reassured by the fact that they have me to turn to when the time comes to make a decision about the safety of a Covid-19 vaccine, so Nina and I thought you in the Yoga for Healthy Aging community might also feel the same way. 

Covid-19 Vaccine Development: A Promise from Dr. Brad Gibson
Brad Gibson, Ph.D., is our behind-the-scenes scientific consultant, who still writes very occasionally. As a former Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Brad's work was focused on understanding the biological and chemical processes that are common to both age-related diseases and aging. Prior to that he was a Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF from 1985-2000, where he worked on various biomedical research projects including infectious diseases and structural biology. Brad joined Amgen in 2016, a California-based biotechnology and pharmaceutical company, where he is currently a Director of Therapeutic Discovery. Brad received his PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984 and then took a postdoctoral fellowship in Chemistry at Cambridge University in England before joining the faculty at UCSF in 1985.

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