Vaccines and Anti-Viral Masks: The Arsenal against COVID-19

On January 11th 2020 WHO published the molecular blueprint of the novel coronavirus from The People’s Republic of China which marked the start of the international efforts to study a vaccine.  Since then hundreds of medical researchers and institutions around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.  Current statistics of the novel Coronavirus prevalence at the date of this article came to 12,196,982 diagnosed clinical cases and 552,781 deaths globally.

 The question everyone is asking is how close are we to attaining an effective “cure” for COVID-19 and what can we do to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission for ourselves and others until such a vaccine is widely available.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a type of medicine that trains the body’s immune system so that it can fight a disease it has not come into contact with before, this is especially significant for the novel Coronavirus because people have never been exposed to it before.  Vaccines are designed to prevent disease rather than treat a disease once you have caught it, a successful vaccine would dramatically reduce the number of COVID-19 we see and effectively end the current pandemic we all live in. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, has said he would “settle” for a vaccine that is 70% to 75% effective.

How does a vaccine work?

As a vaccine works by training the immune system to recognise and combat pathogens, certain molecules from the pathogen (bacteria or viruses) must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response.  These molecules are called antigens, and they are present on all viruses. By injecting some of these antigens in the correct specifications and with an immune stimulating formulation known as an adjuvant into the human body, the adaptive immune system can actually safely learn to recognise them as hostile invaders, produce antibodies, and remember them for the future using specialised white blood cells. If the virus reappears, the immune system will recognise the antigens immediately and attack aggressively well before the pathogen can spread and cause sickness.  Amongst more than 200 candidates from global medical research institutions, 15 of which have entered clinical trials, here are the leading candidates:

AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) experimental COVID-19 vaccine is probably the world’s leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, has large scale human studies underway to determine “its efficacy, safety and immunogenicity.”

Moderna’s (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine candidate which utilises the genetic code of a spike protein from the coronavirus, has also just completed phase II trials and embarking on Phase III.

Sinovac Biotech Ltd., of Beijing, developing an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine passed phase II trials showing that the vaccine candidate induced neutralizing antibodies 14 days after inoculation. The production rate of the neutralizing antibody was above 90%, which led Sinovac to conclude that the vaccine can induce a positive immune response. Now after approval of the Brazilian health care surveillance agency, there is an immediate plan to start phase III trials here. 

There are different types of Vaccine:

Vaccines can be categorized upon the constituent part of the viral structure (subunit, nucleic acid, recombinant etc) they utilize together with an immune-stimulating agent, in the effort to create a successful and repeatable immune response within a large population.   At the time of writing, there are 123 vaccine candidates in various stages in the research pipeline. In a best-case scenario, multiple kinds of vaccines would be found safe and effective, so there would be several options for drug manufacturers and distributors to make and ship across the globe.  It should be noted that any good vaccine protocol is dependent upon compliance of the general population, if the percentage of people who refuse to be immunized is high enough; even a highly effective vaccine (over 90%) won’t be enough to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

As documented above in the leading vaccine candidates, any successful vaccine candidate must go through numerous human clinical trials, not only to demonstrate that it will provide successful and long-term immunity in a wide demographic of people, but also to assess the propensity for allergic risk and frequency of the side-effects concerning the potential treatment.  Once a successful set of long-term clinical trials has been completed, the vaccine must then be mass-produced upon an economic scale to be utilized by governmental and healthcare agencies and rolled out to the general public to protect them from COVID-19.  As can be appreciated, all of these steps take considerable time, with a certain percentage of failure accountable for each.

According to NASDAQ, FDA issued guidelines for its review and approval process for COVID-19 vaccine candidates. To be considered effective, a vaccine only has to “prevent disease or decrease its severity in at least 50% of people who are vaccinated.”  This threshold isn’t unusual for the first vaccines against a virus for which no vaccines currently exist. However, it also means that there’s a real possibility that among those who receive a COVID-19 vaccine, nearly half won’t be effectively immunized against the novel coronavirus.

What can we do to protect ourselves in the meantime?

Leading world-health authorities all unite in agreement that the following actions universally help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Staying home when you are sick/displaying symptoms.

Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.

Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces every day..

Washing your hands often with soap and water

Social distancing of 2 meters from people outside of your household

Additionally the use of face-masks in public spaces is highly recommended and compulsory in many countries.

What is the most rational choice of face-mask to protect oneself until a vaccine is available?

Medical respirators such as N95 offer many benefits to the user when worn properly (FIT-tested) such as high filtration and face-fitting, however they are in short-supply and therefore only recommended to be used by Healthcare workers and First-responders.  However of the Disposable and cloth type masks available for the public, there is typically limited filtration, face-conformity and additionally no long-term benefits in the form of anti-viral properties to the daily-user.

SonoMask offers an ancillary aid to vaccine-programs and a current standby solution. 

In comparison, the SonoMask is an advanced-defense textile unit fashioned from high GSM cotton-polyester fabric, double layered and filtering to 5 microns, the view held by WHO for barrier protection from COVID transmission through the spread of airborne droplets.  What makes this face-mask so unique is that it has undergone a patented sono-mechanical process that was affirmed by independent laboratory bodies to retain its antimicrobial activities against bacteria and fungi with log 5-7 reductions for over 65+ washes, re-used face-masks typically otherwise harbor this micro-organisms which can impact upon respiratory health.  As well as this, it has lab-verified anti-viral activity against COVID-19 meaning the fabric is able to destroy the virus it comes in contact with.

Freedom Fit

Now coming in ear-loop and head-strap designs which are fully adjustable plus nose-band attachments as standard, ensures not only that the product will fit almost anyone's face securely, but when compared to other non-medical respirator face-masks causes it to become akin to The FIT test capability required by medical respirators.  This face-mask is cleared for FDA Marketing under the non-medical use category due to the fact is washable and reusable for over a year and that its patented metallic nano-particle technology is inherently regarded as GRASE by FDA: We use only minute but effective quantities that stay permanently bound to the fabric fiber. 

The SonoMask is now also in the process of being submitted for Medical FDA Testing as a new category of PPE, in relation to its unprecedented and highly-durable viral destroying abilities and exceptional design and implementation.

Dr. Jason Migdal

Dr. Jason Migdal

Microbiology R&D Strategist of Sonovia