Vaccines: Shots All Around
Bloomberg Businessweek|October 05, 2020
Vaccines: Shots All Around
A brief discussion about the implications of mixing and matching different Covid-19 vaccines
Rick Schine

Journalism at Bloomberg News is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary, multi-time-zone endeavor where stories often begin with simple queries. An impromptu chat between a few reporters and editors recently imagined a hopefully not-so-distant future with multiple, safe, functional coronavirus vaccines—and some potential dilemmas. Please note that this is not medical advice. —The Editors


New York Bloomberg Businessweek economics editor

Have we written anything on the possibility of a vaccine cocktail—i.e., could people get more protection by taking multiple vaccines? I guess this would depend on whether the vaccines respond to different targets or have different mechanisms of action.

You can see why it would be hard to test the safety and efficacy of a vaccine cocktail. Pharma companies don’t have an incentive to cooperate by testing their vaccines jointly.


Melbourne Senior editor, Asia editing hub

It’s going to be virtually impossible to test the safety and efficacy of vaccine cocktails in animals, let alone people. My understanding is that labs doing animal studies are overloaded already, and who’s going to fund the research? Without proof-of-principle animal studies, it’s hard to see cocktails being tested in people.

But it sort of makes sense. The vaccines in development use different approaches and often different bits of the spike protein. We know already that an initial priming shot seems to elicit a better response.


Maple Grove, Minn. Health-care Americas senior reporter

There would be some scientific challenges since they would all be going after the same target. There are vaccine combinations, but the components neutralize different viruses (i.e., MMR for measles, mumps, rubella). I haven’t heard of vaccine cocktails in the same way that we have drug cocktails, each hitting a different component of the same target. You would want to make sure they don’t cancel each other out or—God forbid— overactivate the immune system.



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October 05, 2020