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The part Kenny show on news talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. Well, someone who's very friendly indeed is Professor Conille, professor of biochemistry at Trinity College in Dublin, who joins us now live. Good morning.


Good morning. How's it going now? You're a friendly man, but not everyone is friendly towards you. You talked to us last week about someone having a go at you and Grafton Street, a physical intrusion, shall we say. You're getting online abuse as well.


That was a halving. I wasn't. In fact, my graft has faded. So I would look, the online of these happened about four months to I'm sure you get it yourself, you know, but it's simply is blockage. I never see it. So it's far too busy to be looking at that. So this kind of goes the territory. You can't do much about it, can you? Well, I thought, you know, Grafton Street.


I mean, look what happened on Saturday. It was it was horrendous. Wasn't in so many ways. It did resonate because it was near there when I was assaulted and I saw the crowds there. So that was that was a little bit disturbing what happened, wasn't it?


Is it true, though, that some female scientists just won't go public anymore because they just don't want the abuse?


That's the big concern. But to be honest, I mean, I know of them in the UK, for instance, of a female scientist goes on the media and they're doing it with the best intentions. Of course, the abuse they get afterwards is vicious, you know, and it's all kinds of horrible, horrible attacks and threats and all sorts. And then they won't do it. I mean, the big thing for me is that this stops scientists doing their communication with the the general public.


That's a big negative, isn't it? So we got to sort of speak out against it. I mean, I think social media has to do something to stop this, not just scientists. Look, politicians you may have seen this morning, Rejean, had already said female politicians are viciously attacked the whole time. Was that I mean, I think it's just yeah, it's a very unfortunate development when it comes to social media.


Now, today is a big day in schools because leaving cert students and the younger primary school children are back at school. Have a text here from one of our listeners. I have my second class boy back at school this morning. And on the walk to school, he turned to me with an also serious face. He said, Mum, when are the Easter holidays?


You know, counting down the days already counted.


Anyway, the good news on schools, I suppose, is that Mark Ferguson has recommended that the government use antigen testing. Imagine that. And to sort out clusters and schools should they arise.


Yes, tremendous effort at last. I mean, you've been saying and we've both been saying haven't been you've been shopping. I mean, brilliant. Yeah. It's going to take to the middle of March, though, apparently to set it up. I guess they're getting their supply organised, but that's still that's a great advance because as we've been discussing several times, this is another weapon. It isn't perfect, of course, as we've said. But but there's yet another weapon to use against this virus.


I was very pleased to see that. Now, the update that you want to bring us on, vaccines and supply, particularly, yes, remarkable.


I mean, Pfizer and Moderna, the two big companies, of course, who've got the best vaccine in town, if you like, the one that's 95 percent plus. They know the world needs their vaccine. So they've ramped up supply hugely. They're aiming for 220 million doses a month at a minimum between them, which is fantastic. And like a billion a year, that kind of number. And it's working. I mean, they've already given out nearly 100 million doses in the US.


73 million people have been vaccinated there already, which is incredible. They got a record. They got two point two million in a single day in the US, which is a great number to hit, I guess. And then 50 percent are over 65 and they've done in America, which just shows you. So once once these companies get behind something, especially Pfizer, because they're one of the biggest companies in the world, of course, they can really push this hard.


And as you've seen, I guess the Novartis and Sanofi are using their factories to make the Pfizer one. So it looks as if those two vaccines in particular will have loads of it. And then remember, of course, the EU will have its order, completed them by these companies as well. So the issue about supply, the worry there, big decrease is really every day almost. Yeah.


We don't seem to have used a lot of Moderna in this country. Any particular reason why?


Yeah, they didn't have the same capacity as Pfizer because they're a small company that didn't have the big factories to deploy. But now they're doing deals, of course, with other companies and to say, look, can you make our vaccine for us? And that's what's happening. People have realised this is the best product kind of, you know, out there and therefore let's help each other and we're going to see a lot of medicine is the projection. They're very competitive.


They want to beat Pfizer, by the way, you see. So they're saying, look, we need to make as much as the other V for. And then they they go and look for help from other companies. I think we're there. It will be more and more prominent.


Now, the two companies we've mentioned, Moderna and Pfizer with biotech, they're both looking at variants and trying to kind of get ahead of the game.


Yes, I'm Moderna. Have just started a trial with the South African variant of vaccine specific for that one. But they're putting it in combination with the old one that is called a multivalent vaccine. And that going be given that to people as a third booster. So you get two for the price of one, you get a third boost from the for the old variant. And then the NuvaRing is protected against as well. So we're going to see a move towards these multivalent type vaccines.


Fizer exact same. They're putting the two together in one. They're going to start giving it as a booster six months out from the second dose, if you know what I mean. So so the plans are already there to do a booster, if you like, and then the boosters will begin in the autumn and know whether we need them is the next question. There's more evidence, by the way, that the vaccines, they may not be as effective, but they will decrease severity with any of the strains that are out there.


You see, so that's a good that's a good sign. So but even still, the sensible thing would be to give booster shots to the vulnerable and the older, just like flu, really. So we're moving towards a kind of a protocol, if you like, that's just like flu, where every winter you'll be given boosters and they will be motivated in places that have three or four different variants in them. You see. And again, you can imagine, I mean, Pfizer mid-year and AstraZeneca, they're all doing this.


They're all making new vaccines as we speak. And they're the test trials have to be done still because they're new, obviously. But just like flu, you do have a smaller scale trial. Maybe a thousand people make sure everything's OK and then that gets approved. You don't need to wait for the the ten, 20000 people trials. All Oh, that's in hand.


And then they all could be gazumped by what you brought us last week, vowed never there. Yeah.


Vaccine that would work against all variants of precise covid-19.


So they're there. They're mobilising their marketing department. Can you imagine if their sales ours is better than yours? It'll be great because you have this competition do. The thing I had to mention, by the way, is the CDC are about to issue guidelines on what you can do when you're vaccinated. And we need that desperately now, in my opinion. In other words, you've had the vaccine. What does that mean for you? You know, and then the CDC will now say, because in America, so many are now vaccinated, they're looking for guidelines on what they can do.


And the first one will be visits to nursing homes. It looks like they'll give a very clear directive on that, that if someone is in a nursing home, they've been vaccinated. They can welcome a visitor to the nursing home, preferably outdoors, of course, but certainly in a well ventilated room. And we're going to see these these these guidelines coming out. And, of course, we'll have the next one. We will need those guidelines ourselves.


Now, you brought us news of the greenhouse in Israel, which allows people to go to gyms and theatres and so on if they've had their two shots. And I heard the Tannishtha talking yesterday on news talk where he was saying that we have the capability in our vaccine monitoring software, AB, to either produce a paper version of that or a digital version of that, which is good news. But we'd like to have more detail on that, I suppose, going forward.


Yeah, the EU, the EU is discussing it today. I notice all the heads of all the countries are now meeting online today, including our and that's item number two on the agenda. What about passports? Because obviously to reopen travel in Europe. All the southern countries and you're like Greece are looking for this for obvious reasons, and they'll be a big issue. Now, can you issue me with a pass to say, look, I've been vaccinated?


There are challenges because so much to be vaccinated, they be excluded, then, you know, there's ethical and legal issues. But I think they should be able to sort this out somehow, that there will be some kind of a certificate you might call the word pass is seen as a not the one to use, by the way, because it seems like you're free. You know, we still need to be careful. So they may issue a certificate that says, look, I have had both doses of my vaccine.


And then, of course, that should allow you to do things. But but to make it work, we need widespread vaccination because otherwise people are getting left out, aren't they?


So that's an issue that will be discussed now in Britain. There's the hunt is on for the origin of the Brazil variant that they are talking about. They're very worried about the Brazil variant. And perhaps you can share at why they should be worried. It's something to do with the province of Manaus and where people had huge amounts of covered and therefore they thought they'd herd immunity. But then, yeah, that's a concern.


Yeah. I mean, it looks as if. But the trouble is, we don't know exactly how much immunity builds up there early on. And that's those numbers are disputed slightly. But there's a chance they did build up immunity to the old variant and the new one came along and people got reinfected. That's the concern there. Now, again, I would list that under the work in progress because we need a lot more evidence for that before I get too worried about that kind of thing.


But that's what we worry about, that a new variant would you know, you'd be you'd be less protected either through natural infection or through vaccines or something they're examining. And when I was very, very closely just to see if that's the case. But I think the jury's still out on this, to be honest. And as I say, the one prediction is you will see some immunity to any variants, just the level of other means that we need to find out more of it.


Yeah. Now we need to get the world vaccinated, of course, for us all to be safe. How is the Kovács programme going? This is the idea that the developed countries would share and spend on pay.


Yeah, they state that they want one point three billion doses. That's their First Amendment I'm looking for. And they'll use that. Then in 92 developing countries, that's all well in hand. The EU just gave them five hundred million euro, which is a great amount of money, so they can go down by the vaccine of suppliers. And then, of course, AstraZeneca, which everybody should remember, they're giving it away for free because in Oxford, when that was discovered in Oxford, the head of Oxford University said this must be given for free to the developing world.


And that's why they did the deal with us. Zeneca, by the way, because they took that on, because it's unusual for the company to give something away, isn't it? Let's face it. So so AstraZeneca be part of that mix of this one point three billion. But certainly now they're moving hard on this one because we need to get those countries going with their vaccination campaigns as well. Mainly. Mainly the main reason is to stop the variants emerging in these places.


Remember, that's another reason as well as protecting them. Of course, there's a lot of that's that whether or not. Yeah, funny AstraZeneca being mentioned by you just at this moment, got a text from Schamus saying we should be giving AstraZeneca to the over 65 zone, another one from D.. Can you ask Luke, what's the current information about AstraZeneca with the over 65? My father just got his but was worried about all the stories circulating about countries stopping administering it to the over 65 fives.


Wouldn't worry at all because the evidence around that vaccine gets stronger all the time. I mean, they showed in Scotland it worked at ninety four percent efficacy in the over 65. So there's real data for us to see. And then remember, it stops people ending up in hospital and having severe disease by 100 percent. So it's a very efficacious vaccine. The word the word is you do feel slightly rougher after it's a few more symptoms. You know, you feel a bit flu and so on.


That's a good thing, remember, because that might give you long term protection even more than Fizer. You see, we still don't fully know which of the vaccines will protect you. A year out from being vaccinated. It may well be AstraZeneca will beat the others. We don't know. Of course, I'm just speculating. But but again, it's not reacting yet.


The fact that you react to it means it's working. It's getting your immune system cranking up the game.


Now, we talked about Nely Doug Annique. If people were listening last week, they are kind of nicknames for the various variants. And the question is the antibody treatments, are they working against Nely drug Annique?


They are those names I've now got stuck by that. I think we can use them freely because everybody's agreed. That's what you call them. So Nely you as the one in Kent in England. First of all, Doug is another one that emerged mainly in America initially. Actually, Agnelli and Doug make it more transmissible. So if you have a variant that carries those to it's more contagious, ekh is the one that can dodge the immune system a little bit.


So they're the three that we look at. And by the way, it's looking as if they may be the main ones. I mean, the good news here is there's a thing called convergent evolution happening. So in other words, the virus has a few tricks up its sleeve and now we see them and then we know these variants are there's some evidence for that. And now a great study. You can now make a very strong antibody response to any of those.


You know, what they did was they got some antibodies from patients actually who had been exposed to them, purified antibodies, and then were able to show they were very good at neutralising Natynczyk or dog. And now, of course, those antibodies are now in development as a possible therapy. So in other words, it is possible for the immune system to recognise those variants and eliminate them either through a vaccine or through antibodies. So, again, a huge amount of work going on there.


And it's amazing that the amount of research that's happening every day, I, I almost fell off my seat when I see this stuff that was a big sell paper on Friday that came out and those three variants.


So again, it just shows you how we can't we can beat them. We can't beat these variants. Basically. It's just we've got to use our cleverness as a way to to defeat them.


And GlaxoSmithKline have shown their therapy is effective in older adults. Again, that's that's monoclonal antibody drug.


Yeah. Yeah. That's a drug related EMAP. Now, I know the guy who discovered that I worked for GSK back in 2016 and a guy called Jon Hamilton, he's Australian Extra-Curricular. And he discovered that drug. It blocks the thing called GM CSF. There's a mouthful for you. So GM, CSF is a famous cytokine that we all work on in our in our lives and cytokines. And it brings out macrophages, not cell type is very troublesome in cold, but it goes into your lungs and causes all kinds things and not drug blocks, the macrophages.


And they got a twenty 20 percent decrease in mortality in over 70s on that drug. Now, again, that sounds like a small number, but it's still one in five are not dying from that trial. You know, and again, a bigger trial next. The usual thing, it doesn't work in younger people, that drug interestingly. So it does suggest that older people have a slightly different disease.


We know they get much more inflamed and their lungs are much more damaged. So it's not that surprising at one level that I would work in the older cohort.


But but still another example of a therapy. And and they keep coming. Those those type of therapies we keep we're going to see more and more trials actually in the coming weeks. And it's yet another example of a success.


Now, one of your PhD students, a chap called Carl, is heading to Australia. I presume he'll have to quarantine.


He will. He's going to Sydney. Yeah. To work on Koven. We've got a big collaboration with the lab. They're working, as you know, my lab is working on the therapeutic side and and he's got to work continuous PhD in the University of Sydney. He can't wait, of course, to go to the sunshine, but he's not telling me what's going to happen. Fourteen day quarantine mandatory. I think it cost two thousand dollars, which luckily his boss is going to pay for when he arrives.


But if I was, he was what you might call the design for life, how to survive the two weeks. Right. And that's really explicit instructions. And, you know, it says stay connected to other people, be productive, keep entertained. It says maybe learn a language in that two weeks or take up a new hobby that they suggested knitting. I don't think Carl is going to be a keen man for the knitting. But one example, go on a digital tour.


What I liked thought was if you're single, try and go on a virtual date. That'll be very stimulating for you to see. But what struck me was it was a very systematic way. And two weeks, if you know what I mean, and another one that was if you're with a partner, Carl is going on his own. But if you're with your partner, make sure you schedule a quiet time every day that you agree on so you don't irritate each other.


It's not crazy. So there's obviously evidence of issues of people being stuck in quarantine for two weeks, but it's very stringent there. If they're aren't even allowed to exercise anymore, you can't leave your room, you know, so they keep you in the room for 14 days and they've got used to handling hundreds of thousands of people, you see. And the things they need, I suppose. And these guidelines seem to work. You know, Sekal is going to be having to follow these strickly when he gets there.


A few questions. Do we know yet how people get long covid? And if, for example, a vaccine doesn't work 100 percent and the person gets mild covid, could that end up as long covid? That's from Fjellner?


We're more optimistic, actually, because remember, long covid really associates with severe disease. So if the vaccine stops you getting severe disease, it's bound to stop long. What we see and in fact, there's a study now, again, this is very tentative. But I saw over the weekend, if you if you have remember, if you've been infected, you should still get vaccinated. So there's people have been infected and have a long cold and go for a vaccine.


The vaccine may improve. The symptoms of long covid will not be tremendous. So the vaccine may actually be a way to treat Lanco. But I think, again, it's very early days and it's a small number of days and so on. But the magic that they do in trials now in Lenkov with people giving them the vaccine. So it seems to reprogramme the immune system, you see, and then the long cover begins to go away. So yet again, lots of research into Lanco of it happening at the moment.


One of our listeners picks us up on something. And was it not antibody monoclonal treatments that led to the variants emerging?


That's the fear. Yeah, that's very true. That's one theory. That's a specific antibody against, you know, against the bit that it changed, if you like, and then that managed to dodge it. So that's something to watch for, for definite. But as I said, we think we have all the variants now in the spike, you know, so therefore you will be able to give antibodies and then kill it off and they can't dodge it anymore.


Basically, it looks like it's reached its maximum chance of changing, if you like. And now we use the antibodies, for example. You can't get around that one potentially. Now, again, very much a work in progress, but those are the kind of questions that we still have. I'll read a couple of texts about schools and look before we go today.


First day back in school on our first break, talk about Grafman Street. Yesterday, it's just like here at the moment, all the students meeting for the first time in weeks, playing catch up with loads of hugging high fives. So it's just like covid never existed and the teachers are powerless to stop them. It's all going to be a big mess. I predict I can't have a few friends over to my home, but I'm here in school with over 150 people.


That's from a worried listener. Another one drove past school this morning on my way back from early morning shop, a queue of parents and children outside the school. No social distancing from the main door all around the corner onto the main road. I think it's delusional when children are so young to think they won't gather while they all have a right to bring their young children to school and are not congregating. Say there is still a crowd of people in close contact.


There's the worry. It is a worry. I mean, we got to keep a close eye on this. There's bound to be a slight spike here and there. It must be said in those situations, remember, if they follow all the guidelines in the schools and limit social contact, now, that's tough. And that's not a bad point that they're going to mix anyway, aren't they? But it's all about staying outdoors. If you're indoors, good ventilation and limit the time and then you're in a bubble.


Hopefully each classroom is organised into bubbles. These measures should work. Remember, now we are again keeping a close eye on this, obviously. And if emission testing comes in, let's get that in quickly, because that will then spot any outbreaks you see, and then we can contain them. In other words, there's ways there's ways to handle this situation, we think.


All right, Luke Luke O'Neil, professor of biochemistry at Trinity College in Dublin, thank you very much for joining us.