The race to a COVID vaccine has become a global effort — and fight. There are more than 200 vaccine trials currently worldwide, 29 of those in clinical trials with a handful in large-scale/phase 3 trials. Track the Vax is a weekly podcast from MedPage Today and Everyday Health to keep you informed on the development of a covid-19 vaccine, from trials to distribution and everything in between. We take a science-driven look at what's going on behind the scenes. Hosted and produced by medical correspondent Serena Marshall, with Executive producer health journalist Lara Salahi this podcast will bring you interviews and conversations with all the key players — from leading researchers to pharmaceutical companies to distributors, and even those in line to get the shot.
What Do We Really Know About Adenovirus Vectors for Vaccines?
As the U.S. hits the half-million death mark from COVID-19 -- a grim milestone that is equal to roughly the entire population of Atlanta and more than that of Miami -- a new weapon is being added to the COVID-19 vaccine arsenal.
Johnson & Johnson is seeking emergency use authorization for what would become the U.S.'s first one-dose and non-mRNA COVID vaccine. It employs adenovirus vectors, a technology that has been used in labs for decades and was approved for the Ebola vaccine by the FDA in December 2019. It's the same technology that AstraZeneca/Oxford and Sputnik V use.
Still, questions remain on how these vaccines may be different than mRNA or similar enough to other existing shots to encourage vaccine uptake. To explain how adenovirus vectors work and what to expect from the new products, Daniel Griffin, MD, PhD, chief of infectious disease at ProHEALTH Care, an Optum unit, joins us on this week's episode.
Can the Same Vaccines Protect Against New COVID Strains?
As many as a dozen COVID-19 variants are knowingly circulating worldwide. Among them, B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, the highly transmissible strains that originated in the U.K. and South Africa, respectively.
As more vaccines continue to push forward for emergency approval worldwide, we're still learning the effectiveness of the current vaccines against the new strains; and how the new mutations mean even those who have already had COVID-19 may not be immune from reinfection.
To explore the new strains and what it means for vaccination efforts, future mutations, and herd immunity, Angela Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist with Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security, joins us on this week's episode.
COVID Vaccines: Too Risky for Some People?
Nearly 1.5 million Americans are being vaccinated every day against COVID-19. Allergic reactions have led some to question if they should get the vaccine; and scant data from clinical trials for the currently approved vaccines in vulnerable populations means we don't fully know how those with certain conditions will react. Does that mean those with certain allergies or conditions like HIV, multiple sclerosis, or cancer should pass on the shot? What about those who are pregnant?
Barbara Alexander, MD, infectious disease specialist at Duke University and current president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, joins us to explore who should get the shot. Later in the podcast, Mark Turrentine, MD, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and co-chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) COVID-19 OB Expert Work Group, also joins to explain whether the vaccine is safe for pregnant and nursing women.
Can COVID Vaccination Become Mandatory?
New viral strains continue to spread across the country, which has added to the urgency of getting as many people vaccinated as possible. With supplies of the two vaccines currently available in the U.S. falling well short of demand, mandating vaccination is likely not a realistic scenario now. But it could be in the coming months.
Is it legal for states, private employers, and even airlines, to mandate a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use? Who could be held responsible if something goes wrong after getting the shot?
Carmel Shachar, JD, executive director of The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy at Harvard Law School, joins us to explore those legal questions, and more.
NIH Director: Collaboration Amid Chaos, and Biden's First 100 Days
A new week, and a new administration that has taken over the pandemic response. Now that 1 million vaccine doses are administered almost daily, President Joe Biden has increased the daily vaccination goal to 1.5 million Americans.
What will the COVID national strategy actually look like under a new administration, and is Biden's goal achievable?
To explore those questions, and what the future of collaboration in science looks like, we chat with NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD.
COVID-19 Vaccine Policies: Ethical Concerns
Eight COVID-19 vaccines have been approved somewhere in the world, at least for emergency use. In the U.S., only Moderna and Pfizer's two-dose mRNA vaccines are now available for distribution.
But as the COVID pandemic continues to run rampant, vaccine supply everywhere remains limited. How did different countries decide who gets it and who doesn't? And what happens to the dozens of phase III clinical trials and their placebo participants who possibly qualify for vaccination with a different shot?
To explore these and more ethical questions related to the COVID-19 vaccines, in this episode we speak with Arthur Caplan, PhD, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Refreshing approach to questions and answers
Serena asked the obvious questions that people want answers for but are usually ignored in favor of political ones. Finally a place to hear understandable science from people using common sense and not afraid of admitting they don’t know everything. Having an MD and PhD and teaching residents for 40 years I appreciate the lack of arrogance and posturing so often encountered with interviews of the “experts”.
Accurate and engaging, 100% needed information for everyone.
Serena is a bright and engaging host asking the folks in charge a range of questions that we all probably have in one way or another.
This is a must listen in this crazy time.
Thank you to the host and sponsors for this critical piece of the story to supplement the rumor and speculation swirling in the current environment.
Not Enough Scientific Information
I found this pod cast in a search for scientific UNBIASED information regarding the Covid 19 vaccines. I am a registered nurse of 20 plus years and generally very pro vaccine however, I was concerned regarding the rapid speed this vaccine was provided in. Through this podcast I was hoping to find unbiased scientific information about the development, study findings regarding efficacy as well as side effects and adverse reactions as related to this vaccine. The first 2 episodes I listened to provided some of that information however the third episode I listened to instead of addressing the hesitancy to get the vaccine especially health care workers legitimate concerns the guest expert focuses on blaming the government and anti vax groups. I don’t want to hear that! I want someone that address my concerns regarding side effects and adverse reactions. I’m not anti vax....I don’t buy into that ideology, I never have! But as a nurse who generally promotes vaccine administration, I want to hear what clinical knowledge there is related to the side effects of this vaccine and that episode missed the mark and turned me off of the entire series!