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Scientists Post mRNA sequence for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

 

Hackers have released a whole new trove of reverse engineered data on Github.

And by "hackers," I mean "scientists." And this treasure trove of "reverse-engineered data" is the mRNA sequence.

That makes Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine work.

Two Stanford scientists were able to extract the entire mRNA sequence of Modern's COVID-19 vaccine and code it on Github.

 It is a website popular with software developers looking to host and share source code.

sequence for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine


1. Overview: posting Moderna mRNA sequence


Stanford scientists recovered some residual droplets of the Moderna vaccine destined for the trash can and.

After analyzing it, published the mRNA sequence on Github, Motherboard boasts.

The document is four pages long.

The first two are an explanation from the team of scientists about the work.

The second two are the complete mRNA sequence of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.


"We did not reverse engineer the vaccine.

We published the putative sequence of two synthetic RNA molecules.

That have become sufficiently prevalent in the general environment of medicine and human biology in 2021," the scientists explained.

 

They had asked the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) for permission to keep the empty vials.

That would be discarded at the Stanford and Veteran's Affairs vaccination sites.

This is not the first time a COVID-19 vaccine has been reverse engineered and shared online, Motherboard notes.

On Dec. 25, 2020, PowerDNS founder Bert Hubert previously used publicly available information about the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to determine its mRNA sequence.

Still, "no one will be making an mRNA vaccine in their garage anytime soon," engineer Jason Neubert explained on his blog.

 The manufacturing and supply chain behind this type of drug is very complex.


2. Comment by Pauline Londeix


In October 2020,

The young pharmaceutical firm Moderna promised that it would not attack any structure violating the intellectual property.

That means the intellectual property of its highly effective Covid-19 vaccine to produce its own version, and this "for the duration of the pandemic.

As Pauline Londeix, co-founder of the Observatoire de la transparence dans les politiques du médicament, explained to us in February.


The promise is attractive on paper but impractical in the real world.

"In the market as it is, it can't work.

A generic company will not take the risk if it does not have the legal guarantees - a press release is not enough," she said.

There is another obvious barrier to this apparent goodness.

As a Moderna spokesperson pointed out in an interview with the Washington Post, while the company has pledged not to sue any copycats.

It has never promised to make public the industrial and technological secrets of its vaccine.

And this is the less entire true since they could be the first building block for many other treatments to come.

 

3. Open source


That barrier may have just been broken, however, thanks to a team of Stanford scientists.

As Motherboard reports, they were able to get their hands on a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, known as "mRNA-1273".

She then decoded its secrets, using complex reverse engineering methods.

As well as systematic comparisons with genetic material found in the bodies of previously vaccinated people.

After contacting Moderna about their research -a call that went unanswered-.

The team finally decided to publish on GitHub the sequence of the messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding the "Spike" protein of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Which then allows the body, after injection, to learn how to produce its defenses against future viral aggression.

Like that of Pfizer and BioNTech's "BNT162b2" vaccine, which others had already decoded, this sequence is now accessible to anyone with an internet connection.


4. Stanford finding: great scientific value


In theory, it is therefore possible for anyone with the necessary equipment and knowledge to reproduce the Moderna vaccine at home.

Or at least in their factory.

This is especially true since the rest of the ingredients and methods needed to make the precious mRNA-1273 are also well known.

Will we then see the birth of an army of vaccine distillers, producing and bottling hectoliters of do it yourself vaccine in their cellars and garages.?

This is, of course, highly unlikely.

Setting up the supply and production chain for such a product is a highly complex puzzle.

A difficulty no doubt sufficient to protect Moderna from overly brave individuals who would like to test its promise of no lawsuits.

Aware of this non-risk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the publication the green light, say the Stanford scientists.


On the other hand, a generic company with strong backbone wanted to start producing Moderna's vaccine without a formal license or supervised knowledge transfer.

This public disclosure of its genetic secrets could be a very valuable time-saver.

The publication of the Stanford research team and the details of the methods they used will be of great scientific value in the future.

Moreover, the case shows that science and medicine could probably advance even faster if they borrowed some of the rules of open source.


5. Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273)

 

Who should be vaccinated first?

As with all COVID-19 vaccines, health workers at high risk of exposure and the elderly should be vaccinated first.

 

As more vaccine becomes available, other priority groups will need to be vaccinated.

 Including those most affected by COVID-19 or disadvantaged due to health inequities.


Who else can be vaccinated?

The vaccine is safe and effective in people with conditions associated with a higher risk of serious disease.

Such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, lung, liver, or kidney disease, as well as all stable and controlled chronic infections.

Although further studies are needed in immuno-compromised individuals.

Individuals in this category who are in a group for which vaccination is recommended can be vaccinated after education and counseling.

People living with HIV are at increased risk for severe COVID-19.


Candidates for vaccination who are known to be HIV-positive should be informed and counseled.

People who have already had COVID-19 can be offered vaccination.

However, they may wish to delay vaccination until six months after infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Vaccination may be offered to a breastfeeding woman if she is in a group for which vaccination is recommended (e.g., health care workers).

It is not currently recommended that breastfeeding be interrupted after vaccination.


Should pregnant women be vaccinated?

Pregnancy puts women at higher risk for severe COVID-19, but there is very little data to assess the safety of the vaccine during pregnancy.

Nevertheless, based on what is known about this type of vaccine.

There is no evidence to suggest that it will pose any particular risks that outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women.

 

For this reason, pregnant women who are at high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (e.g., health care workers).

Or who have co-morbidities that increase the risk of severe disease may be vaccinated in consultation with their health care provider.


Who should not be vaccinated?

People with a history of allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not be vaccinated with this or any other mRNA vaccine.

Although vaccination is recommended for the elderly because of the high risk of severe COVID-19 and death the situation of very frail elderly persons.

With an expected life expectancy of less than three months should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The vaccine should not be given to persons under 18 years of age until further studies are conducted.


What is the recommended dosage?

SAGE recommends using Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine on a schedule of two doses (100 mcg, 0.5 ml each) 28 days apart.

If necessary, the interval between doses can be extended to 42 days.

It is recommended to follow the full schedule and use the same product for both doses.


Is the vaccine safe?

The vaccine has not yet been approved by the WHO for emergency use under the EUL protocol.

But it has been reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and therefore meets the WHO criteria for consideration under the SAGE.

The EMA has thoroughly reviewed the quality, safety, and efficacy data for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and authorized its use throughout the European Union.

SAGE recommends that all vaccinees be kept under observation for at least 15 minutes after vaccination.

Those who experience an immediate severe allergic reaction to the first dose should not receive further doses.

Long-term safety evaluation involves ongoing follow-up of clinical trial participants as well as specific studies…

And ongoing monitoring for side effects or adverse events in vaccinees once vaccination is in place.

The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, a group of experts that provides independent and authoritative advice to WHO…

 On vaccine safety receives and evaluates reports of potential safety issues, that may have international impact.

 

How effective is the vaccine?

The observed efficacy of the Moderna vaccine is approximately 92% against COVID-19, and protection begins 14 days after the first dose.


Is it effective against the new variants?

Based on the data available to date, new variants of SARS-CoV-2, including B.1.1.7 and 501Y.V2, do not alter the efficacy of Moderna's mRNA vaccine. 

Data on new variants and their influence on the efficacy of COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines continue to be collected and analyzed on a regular basis.

 

Does it prevent infection and transmission?

It is not known whether the vaccine will prevent infection and transmission by the vaccinee. 

Immunity lasts for several months, but the total duration is not yet known. 

These important issues are being studied.

 

In the meantime, effective public health measures should be maintained: 

- mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, respiratory and cough hygiene, avoidance of crowds and good ventilation.



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