“We will need the 30% of undecided to achieve mass immunity” explains Jean-Michel Dogné, director of the pharmacy service at UNamur

A free and not compulsory vaccinee. This is the announcement made earlier this week by our authorities. However, the arrival of vaccines in the coming months is not necessarily unanimous. Many are still skeptical or even reluctant to be vaccinated. And these vaccine announcements raise a lot of questions. On the set of bonus questions, Jean-Michel Dogné, director of the pharmacy service at UNmaur and Leïla Belkhir, infectious disease specialist at Saint-Luc clinics provided some details.

Vaccines too quickly?

It is fast compared to the discovery of the disease but otherwise, it is not very fast explains Jean-Michel Dogné. “If most vaccines are developed in 8 years, it is not 8 years of clinical study. For the clinical study in phase 3, it is on average 6 to 12 months. And in this case, the The first clinical studies began in July. In addition, we will have data on more individuals. This study is being carried out on 30 to 40,000 individuals, whereas usually this is done on 5,000 individuals “.

If these first vaccines appear quickly enough, that does not mean that we are skimping on safety, believes Leïla Belkhir. “There are many partnerships that have emerged between small and large companies but also with laboratories and university centers, and then there was also an acceleration in the administrative procedures. I think that is therefore the The conjunction of all these rather positive elements which explains this saving of time. But that does not mean a lack of security. The proof, when there were concerns with side effects, some research was stopped “.

Confidence in the first vaccines?

Confidence in a vaccine will depend on the European Medicines Agency estimates Jean-Michel Dogné. “This European Medicines Agency is a completely independent body. The agency provides a completely independent opinion on the prior purchase of vaccines by the European Union. And if this agency gives a positive benefit-risk balance for a vaccine, we can In addition, all the details of this benefit-risk balance will be available. What will be essential is to convince the 30% undecided about vaccines if we want to achieve this mass immunity. the 40% of people in favor of the vaccine, we will thus be able to achieve the 70% which guarantees us to achieve collective immunity. This collective immunity must be obtained with the vaccine and not with the disease which represents well heard too great a risk for the population “. The stake will be to inform well and to be very transparent adds Leïla Belkhir. “Getting vaccinated means protecting yourself but also others. This crisis will be overcome if there is solidarity and collective action.

Which vaccines to choose?

For Leïla Belkhir, we still have to leave time. “We do not yet have sufficiently complete efficacy data, efficacy data based on populations of the elderly, people with hypertension or diabetes, for example, or people who are immunocompromised. So, when we have these data, the hypothesis is to say for such and such a person, we will advise such and such a vaccine. We should therefore not rush but again, it is excellent news to be able to have several vaccines. This will avoid the monopoly of a pharmaceutical company and then it will allow the choice according to the type of patient and the availability of these since they will not all arrive at the same time on the market”.

Vaccine still effective in case of mutation?

By definition, all viruses mutate and this is also the case for this virus, explains the infectious disease specialist from Saint-Luc. “We have already identified different strains that have circulated. However, the good news is that so far, the S protein to which we direct our antibodies, has not been affected by the mutations. . However, it is this protein that is targeted in all current studies for the vaccine. Clearly, the vaccine will remain useful “.

Protected for how long?

We do not know how to answer it at this stage according to Jean-Michel Dogné. First, we need all the clinical evidence, and these studies can continue even when the vaccine is on the market. Finally, efficacy studies must be carried out. In short, it is too early to answer this type of question. In any case in the medical world, these announcements of vaccines are very encouraging adds Leïla Belkhir. “We cling to all hopes”.

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