Covid Vaccine Monitoring and the Race Against Coronavirus Evolution
The COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe into turmoil. It brought a global health crisis, causing not only deaths but economic disaster. After a year, the world is putting their hope into the newly developed vaccines to get back on their feet and normal lives. Countries are investing in these vaccines and moving as fast as they can. This hustle for immunization is caused, not just because of the covid itself, but its new variants as well. Reports of more aggressive new variants and mutations are circulating the globe. Many are in panic to receive vaccines than to risk acquiring these mutations. And to understand the mutation of the virus, mapping its evolution is crucial.
How Did Coronavirus Evolve?
L and S strain
The discovery of the original strain of the virus was in Wuhan in December 2019. This is considered to be the L strain. This first virus type is more likely the result of the virus jumping from animals to humans. The virus then mutated to now called the S strain.
V and G strain
The V strain is also just a mutation from the S strain, which then evolved into the G strain. The G strain further mutates into GR, GH, and GV strains. The most dominant strain in the world is now the G strain. It has been the broad cause of infection because it is now easy for spike protein to bind to human cell receptors.
To understand this mutation is also to understand the composition of the coronavirus. The virus’s composition changes when it replicates in the host cells. The changes then give rise to mutations when it transfers to another host cell.
Composition of Coronavirus
Coronaviruses derive their name from their crown or halo-like appearance. While humans have DNA, coronavirus has RNA, which contains its genetic makeup. Nucleoproteins bind the RNA. There is an RNA genome covering called a viral envelope. The envelope is made up of lipids. The hair-like roots outside of the virus are spike proteins. Because of its outside projection, these roots give the virus a corona-like appearance.
The RNA serves as a messenger that prompts protein production needed for other virus structures. Nucleoproteins enable the virus to replicate. The primary purpose of the viral envelope is to protect the RNA genome. This layer also functions as a bed to all other proteins necessary to infect other cells. The envelop proteins serve as beds for new virus particles. In simple terms, the spike proteins aids in hooking the virus into host cells. Once it is latched in the cell, it will attempt to crack it for infection.
The structure of the virus is a jumpstart for scientists to make the vaccine against it. The recent vaccine developments look further into enabling the body to provide defenses against the virus. Under emergency use, the US FDA approved several vaccines. The approval authorized the administration of the now available vaccine.
How do they Work?
There are two types of vaccines in the market right now. With different vaccine makeup, they also have diverse body triggers to build immunity.
Both Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology in their COVID-19 vaccines. It takes into account the spike protein in the virus structure. Once injected into the body, the vaccine triggers the body to create harmless S proteins as well. Once the body recognizes S proteins’ accumulation, it will signal the immune system for a response. Following this, the immune system will build antibodies to counter the S proteins on the surface. These antibodies are then readily available once the “true” S protein from COVID-19 infects a human’s body.
Johnson and Johnson/Janssen use viral vectors in their vaccine development. The vaccine constitutes an adenovirus (viral vector). Adenovirus is a different kind of weakened live virus inserted with the virus’s genetic material. When the viral vector gets into a cell, it relays the COVID-19 virus genetic material. This will prompt the body to make copies of S proteins. Once S proteins accumulate on the cell surface, the body will build its immunity response. It will create antibodies to combat the S proteins. Like the mRNA vaccine, the antibodies will then be readily available if the infection happens. It is important to note that the viral vector uses a “safe virus” containing specific sub-parts. It will not cause any infection, nor will it alter the host’s DNA.
What are the Benefits of Having the Vaccine?
The vaccine is a preventive barrier against any virus. It prepares the body for specific infection types. Naturally, in COVID-19 vaccines, it will prompt the body to build immunity defenses to fight the COVID-19 virus particularly.
Specifically, the benefits of having the vaccine are:
- Prevent severe case or death because of COVID-19;
- Prevent the infection spread from one person to another;
- Contribute to herd immunity limiting the virus to spread and infect;
- Limit mutation possibilities that give way to new strains
In essence, the vaccine gives protection not only to an individual but also to the rest of the community. Limiting its spread has lesser chances of changing structure because there’s no availability of host cells. By doing so, the mutation will cease. It will, therefore will not change strain and capacitate our healthcare to focus on the current one.
How are the Vaccines Distributed?
Now that vaccine development is on the way, relaying doses to the recipient is another step to hurdle. Vaccine distribution is part and parcel of a successful vaccine deployment plan. There are three steps to which a vaccine can safely arrive at its intended recipients.
Making and packaging the vaccine is the pre-cursor to any vaccine deployment. Manufacturing alone is a complicated process that elicits an extended timetable. Furthermore, vaccines will have to undergo a series of quality testing. The quality control procedures are non-negotiable to facilitate safe use and a good turnout.
Because we are facing a global health crisis, the allocation of vaccines covers an equity component. While it is easier for developed nations to procure vaccines because of resources, taking into account the less developed ones is a social responsibility. There are federal controls for other countries to make sure vaccine resource is not depleted or hoarded. Procurement measures and guidelines are available to relay equal vaccine portions according to need.
The most crucial step for vaccines to get to the ground is the logistics part. Transport of vaccines will need cold chain innovations. Cold storages should be able to cater to the specific temperature parameters of the vaccines. Moreover, vaccine monitoring capabilities should also be at best. Logistical tracking maintains the vaccine quality. Following the vaccine monitoring standards is an utmost priority.
COVID-19 Vaccine Monitoring
The primary process of protecting a vaccine’s quality is through proper vaccine monitoring. The procedures from the WHO vaccine management handbook states that vaccine monitoring ensures:
- maintaining vaccine quality throughout the supply chain
- prevention of vaccine wastage during transport
- standard performance of cold chain equipment
- early detection of problems
- appropriate corrective action
There are different aspects to vaccine monitoring that will ensure quality foremost.
Temperature is one of the factors that will affects a vaccine. There are standard temperature parameters that maintain the potency of the different vaccine ingredients. Heat exposure may hasten the potency loss, for that matter.
The risk brought by changes in temperature may be mitigated by:
- standard and prequalified freezers or refrigeration
- a stable power source (with standby generator and voltage regulators)
- temperature monitoring devices
- preventive maintenance and contingency plans
Features of Continuous Temperature Monitoring
It is well established how much vaccine quality depends on proper temperature conditions. Continuous vaccine monitoring provides detailed information on the status of vaccines in transit. Some of the recommended features are:
- temperature tracking and recording feature
- routine temperature data transfer to a user platform
- temperature sensors portable for geo locations
- active temperature display (easily readable)
- out of range temperature warning
- programmable logging intervals
Temperature monitoring should provide few limitations to vaccine transport. Instead, it should be supplemental to the whole supply chain. The creation of monitoring systems through the use of temperature recommend feature is one key establish real-time vaccine logistical tracking. Precision and accuracy are one component of a sound vaccine monitoring system. Furthermore, real-time temperature data is easily accessible. This information can provide a conclusive report on vaccine viability.
AKCP Monitoring Solutions
Cold chain monitoring technology has been part of the pharmaceutical distribution endeavor for a long time. It evolved from manual data collection to integrating wireless data loggers. The AKCP solutions has a collection of vaccine monitoring capabilities to integrate seamless vaccine tracking. It constitutes an early warning system. It ensures that sensors are calibrated therefore providing accurate data. Data visibility is in real-time. Providing live and predictive data ensures quick decision-making.
AKCP Vaccine Monitoring Solution has a complete solution for monitoring temperature-sensitive vaccines. It has a wireless temperature sensor NIST traceable and calibrated. These sensors can easily be installed from manufacturing warehouse, delivery reefers, cold storages and up to the end user. Monitoring and tracking the location of vaccine made possible with 1 sensor. It also serves as a data logger during transit that send data to cellular equipped modem, Wireless gateway. This technology allows the live and remote monitoring through. AKCPro Pharma-Mon Server
This is a Race
We cannot afford to lose more lives. While vaccine development is on the way. While vaccine distribution is still making steady progress. Our best medium is to streamline the current process. Through innovative monitoring capabilities, we are easing and hastening the process. We are ensuring the quality of vaccines. We are making strides to prevent another death. Yes, this is a race. And just like any race, we need to keep up fast against the deadly COVID-19.