Mujahid talks with Imam Malik Mujahid in conversation with Dr. Jerome Kim
Interview Date: 11 AM Central Time Thursday Nov 12. only on Muslim Network TV #Covid-19 #Vaccine #Pandemic
Guest: Jerome Kim, Director-General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), is an international expert on the evaluation and development of vaccines.
Host: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid -- President of Sound Vision and Justice for All.
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Abdul Malik Mujahid 00:05
Salaam and peace. And this is Imam Malik Mujahid. You're watching Muslim network TV on galaxy 19 satellite, Amazon Fire TV, Roku TV, Apple TV. And of course you're on our Muslim network TV apps on iPhone and Android. And our website is Muslim network.tv. We are 24 seven based in Chicago, the only network Muslim community has in North America. Well today situation is worsening in America when it comes to pandemic. And just yesterday, we had 142,755 people who have been infected and 1400 31 people have lost their life just yesterday. It's worsening situation and and hospitalization has increased by 37%. That's just in the US around the world. 1.2 million people have died because of this pandemic. And in the US, 130,000 have died during this period. Poor people are more vulnerable. And that is a desire to have the vaccine, nobody's talking about medicine as much but vaccine is being discussed very thoroughly. What does the future hold for us? I don't know. But I'm hoping good. who's working on medicine who is working on vaccine? What vaccine is good. The CDC in the United States says the goal is to deliver safe vaccine that work with the first supply becoming available before the end of 2020. question is how many people will be able to access that and CDC also saving a vaccine is authorized and approved. In the United States. There may not be enough doses available for all adults supplies will increase over time, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021. However, Covid-19 vaccine may not be available for children until more studies are completed. So CDC seems more hopeful. But the World Health Organization says and I quote, we don't yet know exactly when a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for distribution. But we estimate that it could be in early to mid 2021. I'll hope is somewhere in between these two statements. But to discuss that we have very accomplished scholar, Dr. Jerome Kim welcome to Muslim network TV. Dr. Kim
Dr. Jerome Kim 03:23
Good Day to you.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 03:25
Dr. Kim is Director General of international vaccine Institute joining us from South Korea where it is evening time situation in the United States is rapidly worsening. And it is worse than it ever was through out this year, how is situation in South Korea as well as in the rest of the world.
Dr. Jerome Kim 03:55
Yes, so regrettably, in the rest of the world outside of the United States. COVID-19 continues to infect and surge in countries that had once thought the problem had been temporarily beaten. So in countries in Europe, the number of infections is increasing rapidly and hospitals are filling up and deaths are increasing. And in countries in Asia, it's been a little calmer, you know, the Republic of Korea, which has about 51 million people typically has fewer than 100 local infections a day. That's still more than it than it was, you know, back in the early spring right after Korea managed to control its first outbreak. And since then there have been a number of of outbreaks but the but the government here has been able to bring those outbreaks under control. So it's been a surge then suppression using traditional testing, tracking, isolating and treating and then a period of loosening of social restrictions. And then an outbreak and then more social restrictions, more test, isolate, track and treat. And so now we're on the tail end of one of those actually very large outbreaks. With you know, Korea now has had over 25, over 20,000 infections and a mortality rate that's about 1.7%. pretty consistently. I think that, you know, the big difference here is, no, the government understands that until there is a safe and effective vaccine, standard social distancing measures, so distance masks, hygiene are going to be very important. And probably the most important thing that they and they recognize this in official publications, they say we couldn't do this, without the support of the people. People have to understand what the cause of transmission is, and take steps to prevent it. Until we have a safe and effective vaccine.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 06:01
It's just amazing. But you also mentioned not only in Republic of Korea, but other parts of Asia, it has not been as bad is it a different type of a strain of the virus, or it is purely the people who are willing to follow the science.
Dr. Jerome Kim 06:23
Now and so, you know, the initially the strain was a was very similar to the initial strain described in China. The second and subsequent outbreaks have also included viruses that are similar to the viruses that were circulating in Europe in North America. So the virus has come, you know, gone completely around the world, which viruses will do, you know, air transport, contact between people from different countries, you know, we are going to see the virus changing and mutating and spreading in different parts, we don't think it's because the virus is now immune to it, the new viruses are somehow protected against the immune response or defense, the body's defensive responses, will probably continue to be able to tackle this virus. But, you know, the Republic of Korea has, you know, had very few infections, you know, 20, something thousand out of a population of 51 million. So, an infection is capable of spreading an outbreak is capable of propagating. So, one of the big outbreaks in the summer was in a church, where, because of rain, people were crowded into the sanctuary, they weren't wearing masks, and the outbreak started and spread. And, you know, mask use is very high. If you walk on the street in Seoul, we're where we live now. Almost everyone wears a mask. But you're wearing a mask. But when you go into a bar, when you go into a gym, when you're singing in a karaoke room, you don't have your mask on. And it's those situations that cause transmission, when you're in church or in a gym,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 08:06
I would come to that discussion little more visa v , some other countries in South Asia, where mask and social distancing is not practiced as much, but rate is low. But let's talk about one of the major concern that vaccine is at the horizon. And nobody's talking about medicine is is the vaccine the solution where more investment is or people working on medicine, which will come later?
Dr. Jerome Kim 08:42
Oh, there, people are working on both, you know, developing medicines against viruses has always been a little more difficult. And the reason is that when a when uh, so let's let's start with bacteria. Because everyone's familiar with antibiotics. You know, we have antibiotics, drugs that that attack and kill bacteria. And it's easy to target them because they're different from human beings. The problem with viruses is when they infect us, they enter our bodies, they become a part of ourselves. And for instance, in the case of HIV, it actually integrates itself into our genetic material. So in order to kill the virus, sometimes we have to do things that you know, could potentially affect the human cells as well. So the difficult part of finding antivirals is you have to find certain things in the virus that are unique to it, so that the new drugs can target just that and they don't harm any of the human cells that the virus has infected. So a drug like remdesivir, which has, you know, potentially some beneficial effect is targets a particular part of of the COVID-19 virus, some of the virus, the drugs that we have to Fight HIV, the AIDS virus are very specific four parts of the AIDS virus that are unique that are different from the human cells that the HIV virus infects. And that takes a little bit longer. The other thing that companies have been trying to develop are what we call monoclonal antibodies. And monoclonal antibodies are a very powerful tool, we use them to fight cancers and to fight things like rheumatoid arthritis. But again, these are biological products, they're actually things down naturally, that your body makes your immune system makes to fight off viruses to fight against cancer, and other things. And through through modern biological science, molecular biology, we can basically duplicate those kinds of antibodies in the laboratory and make a huge amount of a very specific monoclonal antibody that is very specific for the virus, it's targeting, in this case, COVID-19. The problem is that you know, you have to, you have to find this protein, you have to put it into a certain cell, you have to manufacture it in huge quantities, and then you have to test it, and unfortunately, not everything we test is going to work. So, like vaccines there, there are certain problems that the people who are developing drugs and monoclonal antibodies face and and that will complicate their journey as well. vaccines, they're not more straightforward, as you know, I mean, my former career in HIV vaccines, you know, we've been looking for a vaccine since 1981. And we still don't have one. If you look at the history of vaccine development, there are some pathogen some germs that we've known about, we've known exactly what the germ is for over 100 years, and we still don't have a vaccine. So different types of germs are easier to develop vaccines against, and we're hoping that COVID-19 is one of those. And it turns out now, you know, I guess Pfizer and biontech have been working on this for maybe 10 or 11 months, and they've come up with a vaccine, that beats over a two month period, appears to be very effective in preventing disease, and also appears to be safe, although we only have two months worth of information, and it's gonna be really important to know more.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 12:20
So that, you know, that that was also I mean, there seems to be, you know, of course, the whole world is looking for one. But there seems to be some national competition and national pride also the, as soon as the the German and Pfizer collaboration announced that they have 90% rate Russians came out, we have 92% of rate. So there seems to be something of that. But when I was looking in the detail of it, it is based on the infection of 40 people or 20 people. Is it large enough of a size to give confidence, of course, they started off by vaccinating 40,000 or so people but but it's still very small as compared to the millions of people who have been infected.
Dr. Jerome Kim 13:16
Yes. And so you you hit on something that makes vaccine development rather difficult. The phase three trials, the trials that we do in order to show that a vaccine is safe, and protects against disease or infection tend to be very large. And we tend to depend very heavily on statistics on a mathematical analysis of the numbers. So the reason that the FDA suggested to Pfizer that they delayed the interim analysis until they had 90 infections was exactly because the FDA wanted this to be very statistically robust. They didn't want, you know, Pfizer to look when they had only 30 infections are only 60 infections, they advise Pfizer to wait and Pfizer did. And and for that reason, it allows the FDA to say, to feel very comfortable in saying that, you know, this vaccine, we believe really does at least over the period that it studied, I have a 90% rate of protection against infection or disease. And that was very important. So even though the number seems small, the the statistical significance is is prepared signal is large. And that's what you want to see in a vaccine that's going to be used in general populations.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 14:30
In the past, when a vaccine was introduced, what was its sample size on which it was tested and considered to be safe?
Dr. Jerome Kim 14:42
So that's actually a it's a complicated question in a way. You know, there are the trials that for instance, HIV trial that we did in Thailand involves 16,400 volunteers. The trials that are going on for COVID-19 are involving between 30 and 60,000 volunteers. So a rather large number of people, half the people typically get vaccine and half of them get placebo. that the reason we do that is that's the fastest way to get to a very clean answer. Does this vaccine protect an individual free from other biases from infection or disease? And the numbers are based on the statistical likelihood that we will find an answer at the end. So if you were a company, or the US government, and you're spending $200 million to know that this vaccine works, you want to have confidence that you have the right number of people, and we'll be able to see protection if it's there. And so, you know, I'm not a statistician, but when you talk to the statisticians, they're able to do calculations that will tell you, you know, you have a 90% chance of being able to get a correct answer if you use 40,200 42,000 people. And, and they're, they're usually correct. And, and so in this case, you know, the statisticians who designed the the plan that Pfizer used to analyze the data, set certain criteria, and usually the Food and Drug Administration or the EMA in Europe for other regulatory agencies and creates the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, review that statistical plan before they approve the protocol before they allow the company to proceed. Because the company, the FDA, the regulatory agency also wants to ensure that the statistics are correct. And often, you know, when the company says, okay, we think this vaccine is, is ready. We believe the data the data is strong, the vaccine protects against disease and is safe. Here, FDA, we would like to license this the FDA often re-does the statistics, they do the calculations on their own reanalyzing the data to make absolutely sure the vaccine is working.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 16:51
You're watching Muslim network TV, this is Imam Malik Mujahid, talking with Dr. Jerome Kim, about vaccines, what is coming, what to hope for? And what are the challenges. We'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 17:32
Welcome back to Muslim network TV. This is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with dr. Jerome Kim. Now the vaccine, which everyone is German, American collaboration is in the news. It uses messenger RNA process, what is that process and how it differs from the other processes.
Dr. Jerome Kim 17:58
You know, there are lots of different types of vaccines. And you know, one of the oldest would be, we grow the vaccine up in a in a flask or test tube or in the case of a company in these giant stainless steel vats, and we harvest the virus and we kill it. And we then inject that killed virus back into a person. And and that allows the body to make a defensive response against the virus. You know, that's, you know, the old fashioned vaccine. And as we've become more sophisticated, we've been able to do other things with vaccines. So when molecular biology made it possible to isolate the parts of the back of the virus, that were the most important for the immune system for the defensive system, we could express just the protein. So go from the whole virus and you know that I think if you've seen a picture of the virus, there are these little like mushroom shaped clubs that stick up on the outside. Those are our protein that are called the spike protein. And we can actually using molecular biology Express just the spike protein and, and purify it, mix it up with something that's that boosts the immune response that stimulates the immune system, we call it an adjuvant. And that can be used as a vaccine. So the vaccine from Novavax, which is a small American company located in Maryland, is exactly that it's a it's a protein, and that in a particularly strong immune system booster, so that's a protein. Now, if you take a one step back, how does the body make protein? Well, it's it's starts at your genetic information, your DNA. And of course, you know, there are DNA vaccines, the company Inovio has a DNA vaccine, DNA is transcribed into something called RNA. So how does it get from yourself in the middle of your cell in what we call the nucleus, all the way to the surface of the cell. It uses something called messenger RNA. So RNA is like a messenger that takes the genetic information and tells the body what to make This is the protein we want to make. So it's possible then if you can take the DNA that you can no skip the DNA and just use the RNA, which is the messenger. And that's exactly what modernen and biontech have done, they've taken RNA. And they inject that into the body, again with a carrier that stimulates the immune system. And that RNA, when it gets injected into your arm, gets made into protein. And those proteins stimulate a defensive response the same way, you know, genetically engineered protein would do. So using these different techniques, a company is able to generate a vaccine that induces the correct protective responses, infection fighting proteins called antibodies. And then sometimes if, if it's a particular a particular type of vaccine, they can stimulate what we call the cellular defense system, the cellular immune system, and make things called killer cells, which can identify and kill cells that have been infected by the virus. And so the different vaccines all have different mechanisms of action. Now, why use an RNA vaccine? Well, you know, the process of developing a protein vaccine is sometimes a bit slow. The process of you know, activating and killing viruses and making sure that the viruses are in activated, and then doing the testing and characterization of that new vaccine may take a long time. With RNA, we can design it on a computer, within a few days, we could have make, we can make it in the laboratory. And then we can start testing it. So it's a lot faster. And if you're thinking that for outbreaks like COVID-19, you want to wait five to 10 years for a vaccine, no things have to be done very quickly. So this is one of those exciting new technologies that may allow us in the future to respond very promptly to outbreaks. And COVID is really the first example of our identifying a problem. So the on 31st. of December, you know, we were notified that there might be a problem by China. By the second week in January, the Chinese had published the sequence, which is so important because they made that information available to the world so that companies around the world could design test kits, could design start designing vaccines, and the RNA companies within nine weeks of that had a vaccine in humans, just really remarkable.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 22:23
within nine weeks, they have the vaccine attend. So it took more time to test as compared to develop,
Dr. Jerome Kim 22:31
yes, to actually make the vaccine in the laboratory, take it through the initial stages of characterization, make it in large enough quantities so that they could actually test it in humans. Now you're wondering, though, doesn't the FDA worry about that? how fast it's been developed. So the FDA had a special review process for this because they recognize that this was going to be a problem. So they had an accelerated process for review. This was allowed for vaccines that had a safety so that the platform RNA, or DNA, or certain types of viral vectors, like the Adenovirus vectors that some of the companies are using, they've all been in various forms and thousands of human volunteers. So the FDA is fairly comfortable with the safety profile of RNA or DNA or adeno, viral vectors already. So it was in that circumstance that they could allow these vaccines to move more quickly into humans.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 23:27
Yeah, Dr. Shaheen, who leads the biotech is quite celebrated all around. You know, considering the anti immigrant feeling all around the world, especially in the United States, that is a is a Muslim, coming from Turkish background as son of a very, some laborer from Turkey in Germany, and he grew up to contribute in such a such a big way. So biontech contribution, you know, he says, In January, we found out he canceled the vacation of his staff, they started working. And essentially, you're saying it takes only eight to nine weeks to computers and actually develop. But then the testing process and testing normally people are talking about third level testing. So what are the first and the second and the third different levels of testing here?
Dr. Jerome Kim 24:24
that's a great question. So first, a vaccine is tested in animals typically, and we you know, if you're a company, and you're going to spend when it
Dr. Jerome Kim 24:34
right, I mean, if you're a company and you're going to spend a billion dollars to develop a vaccine, that's on the average, how much the companies tell us it costs and in the failure rate going from the laboratory to licensure is 93%. So there's a huge cost and a big risk of failure. You want to make sure that as you move the vaccine along that it meets certain criteria. So you test it in animals first. If it works, In animals, then you, you begin to advance it into human testing. And the first stage of human testing is called phase one. Phase One trials tend to involve 50 volunteers or fewer. And it really is designed to look at safety. I mean, immediate safety is something bad going to happen if you inject this into a adult, human volunteer. And you know, after you do phase one, you look at the safety data. And sometimes you'll be advised by a independent group called the data and safety monitoring board. So they'll look and they'll say, Yes, we don't see any safety signals here, go on with phase two. Phase two can involve hundreds of volunteers. So 600 volunteers, for instance, and you can look at dose so can we increase the dose, and you look increasingly at what we call the target population. So you know, some vaccines are targeted, the elderly, some vaccines are targeted at children. So eventually, you're going to have to test the vaccine, to see if it makes the correct protective responses in the target population. So phase two, really is around getting the vaccine and looking at the target population, and saying, yes, this vaccine is safe in hundreds of people, and it generates the right protective responses that the protective responses that we want to see, does it generate neutralizing antibody, these proteins that bind to the virus and inactivated? Does it generate killer cells? And if in the target population, you see the right protective responses, then the company will go, okay. Alright, so now we're going to put down the, you know, several hundred million dollars to do the phase three trial, and in 10s, of thousands of people. And those trials are designed very specifically to answer a question, is the vaccine safe? And does it protect against disease and in fact, core infection. And at the end of the phase three trials, sometimes you actually have to do a second face to trial. And so you can, you can see the cost building up here. So as you move from one phase to the other, the companies want to make sure that the product they're taking forward is going to work. And at the end of the day, if you're convinced that the company is convinced that there is protection and safety, then they can apply to the Food and Drug Administration in the US or the EMA in Europe, for approval. And those submissions, like in the old days, when I first started, it was 200,000 pages worth of documentation.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 27:22
Dr. Jerome Kim27:24
FDa goes through it. And they repeat the analysis. Sometimes I mean, that's the level of scrutiny that they regulatory scrutiny, that the FDA, I mean, they consider this to be their job, right? Their remit, their mandate is to have safe and effective vaccines. And so they're not going to let it go. So when the FDA was considering emergency use, they set some very clear criteria. They said, you know, it has to be effective. But you have to have on the average, two months worth of safety follow up on all the volunteers before will allow you to have emergency you. So although Pfizer has evidence the vaccine protects, they won't have the safety information for another few weeks. So the FDA, so they're not going to apply for emergencies until they have that information. Because again, the FDA said that this is a part of our job. It has to be effective, but it has to be safe.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 28:19
You think this messenger RNA RNA process is the process, which is going to dominate the future of vaccination.
Dr. Jerome Kim 28:29
So for certain types of vaccines, it's going to be a huge leap forward. But there are times for instance, like and we were talking about protein vaccines for a little bit. The beauty in the protein vaccines is that they are able to generate very, very high levels of this protective antibody. And they take a bit longer to develop some time. And so that is the reason why they're a bit behind the RNA vaccines and the whole inactivated virus vaccines. But in the end, we may end up with a you know wanting to have a vaccine that generates really, really high titers of really high levels of protective antibody that lasts for a long time. So remember now with Pfizer, as with all the companies that we'll be analyzing their data, we will have maybe two to six months worth of follow up data. And we want people to be protected for more than two to six months. So you know, we're going to have to continue to watch the people in the trial to look at the levels of infection fighting proteins in their blood to know whether or not we may, for instance, have to boost people give them a booster injection as we often do for tetanus for instance. So there's there's a lot of work still to do. And anyway, the you know, the the good news about Pfizer is that it's an important proof of concept for RNA vaccines. It's an important proof of concept for COVID-19 that we have now proof that a vaccine can at least over short term protect against infection. That's a very important concept and You know, we I think you were, I don't know if you're joking, but about, you know, national pride and things. But remember, this is a collaboration between an American company and a German company. If you look at Johnson and Johnson, which is an American company, the part of Johnson and Johnson that makes the vaccine is actually Johnson, which is a European company. Have you at GSK, which is a actually based in Britain, with manufacturing in Belgium. And it's partnered with Sanofi, which is a French company with an American research and development unit. So it's kind of hard to say that these are not in an international effort. Although, yes, Operation warp speed, the American program is putting $18 billion into this. And if you think about accelerating vaccine development, if you think about taking it from the usual five to 10 years, to six to 12 months, you have to you have to de risk the process for the company, because the company's thinking a billion dollars, you know, only one in 10 vaccines actually makes it through. I mean, we don't want to rush things and potentially Miss and do things wrong. What the government did was it said, We need a vaccine. The social and political solutions in America are not working. Now, we're not able to get people to use masks consistently. We're having difficulty with separation. And we're having to go through these lockdowns which have enormous social, economic and political cost. So we need a vaccine, and how are we going to do it, we de risk the process by offering the company's funding. And it you know, and it bore fruit in the end, although Actually, this is an interesting point. Pfizer accepted no money upfront from the US government.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 31:47
But a commitment to purchase.
Dr. Jerome Kim 31:50
Yes, exactly. And that's, that's an important commitment. So now the company knows that it will recoup whatever it had potentially invested.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 32:00
No, my biontec and Pfizer vaccine will require for transportation, minus transportation properly restorage it to minus hundred and eight Fahrenheit degrees. It is and there are questions that that type of transportation is not easily available. So what are its implication? I mean, CDC is thinking that it may be available sometime in a limited numbers late this year. Do you expect this to scale that fast that it helps the world or it is going to be only in the West? in certain places it could be used?
Dr. Jerome Kim32:48
That's actually a really great question. And it's actually multiple questions. So let's take the first part, which is the the temperature. So the ultra cold cold chain requirement for the Pfizer vaccine, which is minus 70 or minus 80 degrees Celsius or over minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit is really remarkably hot, remarkably low for a standard vaccine, most vaccines can be kept in a standard refrigerator two to eight degrees, but the cold chain is very important, and as a company is moving forward in its development process, it will try to raise that temperature to something that is more practical. So, Pfizer is working to try and raise the temperature of storage from you know, minus 70 Celsius or centigrade to something closer to minus 20. But Moderna is working to try and get that to two to eight degrees. So, you know, they I think they understand that, that the temperature may limit the applicability, or the ability to distribute the vaccine. On the one hand, on the other hand, you know, there could be other innovations that become, that can be used, you know, special cold boxes that will keep vaccines at temperature, or, you know, vaccine freezers full of, you know, vaccines at minus 70 that will be exchanged out or, you know, distributed, you know, the, the supply chain is remarkably difficult, but, you know, we transport, for instance, ice cream all over the United States in the middle of summer, when it's 120 degrees, and you have to keep the cold chain going. So there are going to be solutions. You know, maybe we don't have them all in place right away. But, but these are technical solutions, and the distribution and logistics are going hopefully going to work. The second question, oh, sorry, go ahead.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 34:38
We'll just take a short break. And we'll continue this conversation that how accessible and what else needs to be developed to make it available to all around the world where transportation and connections and if rotations may not be available to that level? You're watching Muslim network TV. This is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with Dr. Jerome Kim. We'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 35:33
Welcome back to Muslim network This is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with Dr. Jerome Kim, who is evening in South Korea, and so kind of you to spare your time for us. And he shared this with me that while they, you know, this, this vaccine Pfizer vaccine is going to be available in America, it has challenges of refrigeration, which they are still working on. But is it going to be something which will benefit not only the Western world, or people around the world can benefit from it considering all the logistics which are involved?
Dr. Jerome Kim 36:17
So I think that it's a complicated question. And I think the probably the first response should be Pfizer is the first of you know, maybe five companies that may have information available from interim analyses in the next two to three months. So we would expect that Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca moderna will also have information that becomes available and Chinese companies as well. And we heard that the Russian vaccine also has 92% protection of the knowing, again, has seen any of the data.
Dr. Jerome Kim 36:52
So I think that,
Dr. Jerome Kim 36:53
you know, the we probably will have additional vaccines that shows some level of protection, whether there'll be the same 90% or slightly lower, we're not sure and whether those differences are meaningful again, we don't know. But the governments around the world 190 countries have banded together to form something called Covax. Now, there are two notable standouts from Covax The Chinese have joined almost all of Europe has joined America and Russia are not a part of Covax. And Covax is actually really remarkable. And it's remarkable because of its 190 countries, it's being led by the World Health Organization, by GAVI, the vaccine Alliance, which distributes vaccines around the world, to countries that can't afford to pay for them. And CEPI the Coalition for epidemic preparedness innovations, which is helping to develop vaccines for outbreaks. Of course, COVID being the biggest example recently of a major pandemic. So these three organizations have convinced 190 countries to put together enough funding to buy 2 billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2021. And that's important because 22 billion doses will allow you to vaccinate 20% of the population of the countries that sign on to KCovax and for poorer countries that don't have an option and can't afford to bid against wealthier countries. Something like Covax will allow them to vaccinate the elderly, and to vaccinate healthcare workers. So those populations that are at greatest risk from COVID-19. And that's actually, you know, really remarkable because often when we develop a new vaccine, so say we have a new vaccine for pneumonia in the United States, it takes years for that vaccine to work its way into developing countries into low and middle income countries. So and I use it, I always use it as an example of vaccine that we give children in America. It's called rotavirus rotavirus vaccine is enormously effective. In fact, after it was approved by the FDA in 2006, rotavirus vaccine uptake went to 70% and rotavirus diarrhea in children disappeared in America. Now, in 2009, the World Health Organization approved this vaccine and recommended its use yet in 2020 60% of the children around the world do not receive rotavirus vaccine 11 years later. Now, if this were COVID this would be a real problem. And the Gates Foundation did some modeling. And they found that if the high income countries take the first 2 billion doses without any regard for equity of distribution and allocation according to need, then the number of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 will double. So, Covax is an attempt to fight against vaccine nationalism to ensure that at least at some level, the needs of all countries can be represented and Covax is actually structured so that in the next phase, if there still is isn't enough vaccine, then Covax will purchase additional vaccine and allocated by priority. So the countries that needed the most the groups that needed the most will have priority in the next round. So there is a mechanism now, and it would be great if the United States would join
Abdul Malik Mujahid 40:16
Why United States and Russia are not part of it.
Dr. Jerome Kim 40:21
So, you know, I think part of this is
Abdul Malik Mujahid 40:23
to do with the, you know, type of President Trump's policies of isolation or nationalism, or is it some commercial interest? What is
Dr. Jerome Kim 40:37
So, you know, a part of it, I think, is probably related to WHO, and WHO is involvement. But the United States was slow to join CEPI, although it recently provided some funding to the Coalition for epidemic preparedness, innovation, but a very small amount compared to, you know, other countries around the world, or even to the Gates Foundation, which donated significantly to the to this organization that develops vaccines for outbreaks. But I think, you know, where I hope that the United States will assert its global health leadership, and and, and actually play a constructive role in ensuring that vaccine, it can be equitably distributed. And I say this, because right now, if you there's a study done it by Duke University, and they found that around the world, 8 billion doses of vaccine had been purchased primarily by high income countries have been pre ordered by the high income countries. So even the amount that Covax will have which is 2 billion doses is is is dwarfed by the amount that the high income countries have purchased, and some of it is far in excess of our needs. So for instance, and the United States has pre ordered 1.6 billion doses of vaccine. Now, all of not all of that is actually consigned for delivery, some of it is bought on contingency, and, you know, not all the vaccine, the thought was that not all the vaccines may work, we have to make strategic pre orders and ensure that us populations will get the vaccine when it's available. So actually, Pfizer is just the first there are other vaccine companies that are also manufacturing doses now. So that if additional vaccines are shown to be safe and effective, and are given emergency use by the FDA, then other vaccines may become available. So we don't only have a vaccine that has to be stored at minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit, there may be other vaccines in the pipeline, and we should be seeing results in the next month or two. So
Abdul Malik Mujahid 42:34
moderna coming up in 30 days or so. So So what is you know, so what is the concern for Russia and America I understand. And with the change of administration here, cooperation with World Health Organization may increase, but what is the Russia's take why they are not taking part because they did think they have a capacity to to go on their own for their population and provide for others.
Dr. Jerome Kim 43:09
You know, I'm not sure why Russia doesn't, doesn't participate in it. You know, the, the high irony here is that, you know, during the Cold War, Russia and the United States cooperated on polio vaccine. And then, you know, the world has actually rid itself of a single human infectious disease, that disease was smallpox. And that was a joint effort in during the Cold War between the US and Russia, and did not have the US and Russia participating in this global effort to deal with the greatest pandemic threat in 100 years, is a bit ironic and actually is going to contribute to, you know, potentially, to prolonging the epidemic and increasing the number of deaths as a result. So, an operation warp speed has been remarkably successful in the sense that it's moved vaccines forward at an unprecedented speed and with continued respect for safety, but it's completely inwardly focused, in a sense is a vaccine for America. And what we need are vaccines that can be used throughout the world. And there's a silver lining here, I guess, another organization besides the United States government has put a one and a half billion dollars into COVID vaccine development, and that's this organization called Cepi. And when Cepi signs a contract with a company, like Madonna, because it has a contract with Moderna. The company signs a global access agreement, and also agrees to sell the vaccine for reasonable cost, which is important. And so a number of the companies that are supported by operation warp speed are also supported by Cepi. And, you know, that gives a little bit more global outlook to the distribution and equity and distribution of some of these vaccines. It would be a remarkably important thing for the United States to assume a greater role in providing vaccines for COVID-19.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 45:06
Now, if one of the things I like to bring into discussion at this moment, we're talking earlier, the remarkable achievement, which is, you know, New Zealand had, but New Zealand is just, you know, five, 6 million people. It's like a large city, like Korea, which is, you know, 60 million or so people. I'm a republican of Korea, but in America, nobody will know Republic of Korea. So we keep saying South Korea. And, and this social distancing, and mask and contact tracing that did amazing job, and what are the educational and cultural things which can be transported to other countries because I see the whole vaccine which is has not reached the people who even have invested in their in the West West, it will take time before it reaches around the world, and more than 1,000,00, 1.2 million people have already died. And we may be looking at another million or so God forbid. So in that situation, you know, things
Abdul Malik Mujahid 46:27
, which are which don't cost but probably huge investment in education. So how, what are the things would South Korea has done in terms of educating people and citizen cooperating which could itself be taken as a major preventive mechanism and spread around the country as vaccine will be spread? Because I know a whole lot of people don't want vaccine. I mean, that's another problem which is getting around but but what can be done in terms of educating that because say, even vaccine is available, it is not going to replace probably better hygiene, physical distancing, and, and using masks.
Dr. Jerome Kim 47:16
So they actually all of those are important points for Korea. So this is as an American looking at Korea who lives in works in Korea. Speaking, and it's been remarkable because, you know, Korea was, unfortunately the victim of a different Coronavirus in 2015. That Coronavirus was called MERS, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. And the government was heavily criticized for its response to MERS. And so what did they do right after that they revised the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act. So they changed the law. And that gave them a lot of the tools that they felt that they didn't have in fighting the MERS outbreak. So and one of those was the ability to under emergency circumstances to unify command and control at the level of the prime minister. So at the at level 4 emergency, the Prime Minister runs the response, which is really important. And the person who actually runs the response is the head of the Korea CDC. And actually, it's now it has a different name. Now it's the KDCA, but it's the the equivalent of the American CDC. And so that from the top, all the way down to the level of the districts where the Health Officers reside, who actually track people, and who call you up to make sure you're staying at home because you're in isolation. Because you've potentially been exposed and and, you know, everyone has the same message. So the message is start at the top and the messaging is consistent all the way down to the district that I live in, for instance. You know, everyone knows exactly what to do, because it comes from the top and goes down. In America. We didn't see that, right? We had the federal government, we had different states, different states, we're doing different things, states and cities, we're having fights in Korea, it's one unified command and control the way you would in an army if you were at a war and really, the pandemic is a war. And so, if the so that's one thing that's unified command, and actually when you look at Australia, which is also a federal system, you know, they have the equivalent of states and governors, and the governors are, you know, separate from the national government. The prime minister said, okay, we need a national unity government so invited the provincial governors to sit in the cabinet, so that there was unity of command and control and so if you look at the successes Australia is a success, even though they had an outbreak and had to reinstitute some lockdowns, they were able to contain it. New Zealand has been a success, same thing, very consistent, singular control over the pandemic and response. So that's one thing. Then the testing, you know, in Korea, they've tested they've done more than 100 tests for every positive case.
Dr. Jerome Kim 50:10
Dr. Jerome Kim 50:12
it's like, if the pandemic is a fire, you know, you certainly know that the person who's infected whose test is positive in front of you, is effective, but you don't know all the people that this person has exposed. And unless you're doing adequate testing, then you're not going to be able to understand the extent of the fire. So it's like fighting a forest fire only knowing that there's a fire in front of you, when the fire is actually, you know, miles or acres, you know, hundreds of thousands of acres are being consumed, but you can only see what's in front of you. So, adequate testing is very important. Tracking was very important. So again, it isn't that they track you everywhere. But you know, on my phone, I, if there's a case reported in my district alert comes up on my phone that says, if you're interested, you know, there's a case in your district, if you're interested, click on this link, and it takes you to the district office. And it's actually available in English. So it's in Korean, but if you don't speak Korean, you can read the English language version. And they'll say, there's been a case. And if you're interested, you know, they visited this spot, this spot and this spot, we've been able to confirm that they were at the supermarket between 10 and 10:15, on video camera footage. So then you can say, well, oh, you know, I was standing in the line at the cashier at 10:15. At this thing at the supermarket. So maybe actually get tested. And testing is free. All you have to do is show them the warning that you got and say I was at the supermarket at 10:15, I think I might have been exposed, you know, and they will be tested free. So testing and tracking were very important. And then for big things like there was a big protest, and a lot of people who were potentially infected were at the protest. So what the government said was, you know, there's no way we can tell who was there, and people were not wanting to let other people know that they might have been exposed. So they used a special part of the law that allows the government for a period of 30 days to access cell phone towers. So they access the cell phone towers around the square where these 20,000 people were, they got the phone numbers of everyone who had their phone on, which is probably just about everyone. And they sent text messages to everyone saying you were in a situation where you're potentially exposed come in and be tested. And if you show them that little thing from the government, you get tested free. And within six hours of your test, you know that you're positive or negative. So this is an RT PCR test the PCR test that they do similar to the one in the States, but it's reported out in six hours. And you know, that kind of responsiveness and that kind of ability to let people know that they potentially have been exposed, and to provide testing free of charge and have rapid turnaround on the result, again, builds confidence, the system is actually there to protect you. So you can assess your risk, you can be protected. And then the other part is isolation. So you know, if you're infected, we don't want you to go around exposing other people. So in Korea, they put you in what's called a residential care unit. Which is isolation, essentially, and you're isolated until you're negative. And that was an important part because you know, part of the problem in Europe is they know who's infected, they tell them to stay at home. And if they don't stay at home, there's no way to know. And if you're infected, you have the you're definitely have the potential to infect others.
Dr. Jerome Kim 53:40
Abdul Malik Mujahid 53:40
Thank you so much.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 53:42
Dr. Jerome Kim, you have been such a good teacher for me. Thank you so much. learn a great deal actually thought of couple of ideas, on which cooperation and international coordination, how it helps, how it hasn't. So thank you so much. I truly appreciate you sparing one hour with us. My pleasure and get to you. And thank you Cheryl Han for producing today's show and Dr. Abdul Waheed for co-producing today's show. And thank you for watching. I hope you benefited from it as much as I did. You're watching Muslim network TV on galaxy 19 satellite which covers US Coast to Coast is to us not to south and on galaxy 19 satellite and Apple TV amazon fire tv Roku as well as your app and Muslim network.tv peace