Luis Enjuens: “It is to be expected that the epidemic will repeat itself every 10 or 15 years”

coronavirus expert scientist


The CSIC scientist, who is in charge of developing a vaccine against COVID-19 that solves the problems of those already supplied, participates in the I Terrorism Congress organized by the community of Madrid.

the scientist
Scientist Luis Enjuanes in his laboratory at the Autonomous University of Madrid

Luis Enjuanes directs the development of a definitive vaccine against Sars-CoV-2. When he was about to retire, the coronavirus began to spread and, instead of going to the shelter, he went outside to see what he could contribute. The research, carried out in the laboratory of the CSIC of the Autonomous University, will, according to the tests, solve existing problems in the doses injected into the population.

Enjuanes participates this Wednesday at the I Congress of Terrorism, organized by the Community of Madrid, to talk about the biological threat. In the year 2000, his team managed to create a coronavirus in a laboratory for the first time. Was the COVID-19 pandemic an act of terrorism? Is the possibility of designing a virus with the ability to kill multiple people controlled? In his laboratory good is done but evil can be done. “Any of these scientists could be terrorists.”

How is your work related to the terrorist Congress to which you have been called?
There is a relationship. Viruses are not viruses because they are. They are because they carry what are called virulence genes. What are they? They circumvent host security. So it is very poisonous. In this laboratory we have been working on the virus-cell relationship for many years. We work with dangerous viruses like Hepatitis C or HIV. Our work has been to identify the virulence genes. If you identify them, you have the technology to prevent inhibition of the immune response. The virus starts behaving like an attenuated virus, that is, like a vaccine candidate. This laboratory, in the year 2000, was the first to manufacture the coronavirus by genetic engineering.
Can they make coronavirus like Sars-CoV-2?
We can make it chemically. We can insert and remove genes. Usually what we do is tone it down. That is, we remove it. If through genetic engineering processes we amplify virulence genes or insert them into another virus, we inhibit the development of gain of function. You cannot make a harmless virus more violent. The work of anyone working in the laboratory can be highly appreciated but he can also be a terrorist.
How is the virus of Sars-CoV-2 explained?
The virus’s S protein makes it a more pathogenic virus, capable of causing an effect in any organ. The other coronaviruses studied primarily affected the respiratory and intestinal tracts. It can affect up to fifty different organs.
It was always suspected that the coronaviruses that caused the 2020 pandemic originated in a laboratory
That he had escaped from the Wuhan laboratory was said from the very first moment. Now we know it comes from raccoons. The faeces of these animals were analyzed by taking samples from market cages and it was found that they contained 99.89% identical virus to the human coronavirus. We now know about the origin of the virus.

It is relatively easy for a terrorist to create a pathogenic virus in the laboratory.

What are the chances that Madrid will be the victim of a terroristic biological attack?
It is possible. This happened in World War II. But it’s not a possibility. For a terrorist, creating a virus that is pathogenic and producing it in a laboratory is a relatively easy task. The problem is the spread of the virus. For a biological weapon to be effective, the virus has to be spread with many people in one place. on a football field. or in the subway. This massive release of viruses or modified bacteria is not easy. By creating a tiny bomb that delivers the virus via micro-explosion, the heat can kill the agent. Technologies for the propagation of dangerous infectious agents are fundamentally more complex than genetic engineering.
What biological threats does Spain face?
Any emerging virus can become a threat to any country. It is easier to be threatened in countries where the population, for food reasons, hunts any type of animal. They move into the caves of bats, which are carriers of viruses deadly to humans. They are not usually infected in advanced passes because this type of contact does not occur. It is to be expected that these epidemics and epidemics will be repeated more often. There will be another pandemic of course. The outbreak of the epidemic will increase with time. Suffice it to say that ten new coronaviruses have been discovered in the past ten years that infect animals but can leapfrog species. A study by the Rockefeller Institute in New York estimated 300,000 viruses to be identified. Most likely, there will be an epidemic every 10 or 15 years.
At what stage does your lab develop the vaccine?
Our vaccine has the ability to induce sterilizing immunity. We found no trace of the virulent virus three weeks after the rats received the dose. The immunity it generates, via the intranasal route, eliminates the virus at the point of entry. This is of interest because it contrasts substantially with current vaccines. They are vaccines that allow infection despite three doses. Of course you don’t suffer from a serious deformity and you don’t die. But they must be improved so that they can eliminate the virus at the entrance, as it seems in our experimental model. Our vaccine is effective against the 2012 Mers coronavirus, which causes death in 37% of cases, and we use the same technology for this coronavirus. We are optimizing its yield and safety.
Will it be commercialized soon?
We are now moving very fast, because we have crossed a chasm that we have to overcome. He has returned us the job for at least a year. We’ve proven it works and provides sterilizing protection. We are increasing security resources to support them. You can’t just take one security measure, but three. Actually we work with six or seven to consider it safe.
Do you have a definitive vaccine on hand?
Our RNA replication is unique. Like I said, it extends itself. It is given internally. Coronavirus infects the respiratory tract. The technique we use is to present the antigen in that region. Everyone knows it is really effective. Preference is given to the intramuscular route as a thing of the past. Prior to this, when there was no current scientific development, drugs could get into the brain and cause some unwanted side effects. The US flu vaccine is already administered intravenously.
Has the virus been ‘beaten’?
I think it’s happening as we predicted two years ago. New viruses are usually viruses when they jump from species to species and pass from a lower mammal to an individual. They find the human population defenseless against this pathogen. With the passage of time two things happen. The population is vaccinated and the virus develops. It prefers to spread rather than kill.

“Vaccines Aren’t Perfect But They Have Saved Millions of Lives”

Do you understand the distrust of vaccines?
We must recognize that human nature has a diversity of ideas and beliefs. This does not happen only in the world of religion. There are many people who follow completely different religions and are willing to give their lives. This is also the case with the passion that people have for their football team. An obsession that sometimes doesn’t make sense and isn’t harmless. Fortunately, there are people, and especially in Spain, who believe in the efficacy of vaccines. But there is always a minimum percentage that, due to an irrational belief, amplifies and absorbs a series of hoaxes and believes that vaccines have a chip to control our minds. They have adopted beliefs without scientific basis. It is essential that the media collaborate with the health and scientific media to reach people more effectively.
What do you think about some of the sudden deaths? Could they be related to vaccines?
Whenever a vaccine is administered, some deaths occur. Two or three or four out of every million people who are vaccinated suffer from thrombi that can even cause death. This can happen with some vaccines but not all. To avoid this, hospitals already have the necessary means. Vaccines are not perfect, but the benefit-price ratio is the highest for any known drug, He has helped save millions of lives. In some cases they may be the cause of secondary effects aggravated by some previous pathology of the patient.
Did you do well with the management of Coronavirus?
I think generally yes. People are super intelligent but in the past. With what we know now it’s all too easy to judge some things that might not have been the best fit. He worked diligently. There were some very poorly behaved insects in the nursing home. There were not enough hospital or ICU beds and in some places it was recommended not to move older people as if they had less authority. I think that, in general, the handling of the pandemic in Spain has been done fairly. and it continues to be reasonably, The government has made every effort within the framework of the European Union to obtain vaccines quickly.
Had he not retired?
Must be retired. There was a problem with the coronavirus and our lab, which has been working for 35 years, has the level of knowledge and experience needed to make a vaccine. We thought it appropriate to expand our work to contribute. We have worked and continue to work hard. We have created a vaccine candidate that is of interest. It’s not over yet. We are a very serious laboratory and unless we have a product with an absolute guarantee and efficacy, we will not try to enter the market.

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