Developing new COVID-19 vaccines is ‘almost like a LEGO set’

Developing new vaccines to combat different variants of the coronavirus is ‘almost like a LEGO set’, says one Denver-based doctor.

CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida – a practising physician and broadcast journalist, whose background includes two tours of duty in Iraq – spoke to CBSN Denver about the ease of adjusting the current COVID-19 vaccine to counter new variants of the virus.

“Certainly developing the original vaccines [has] been a challenge, but I think the news in terms of adjusting those vaccines is a little bit better than we all think it might be,” he said.

“There will be human trials beginning next month for these changes in vaccines. It is going to [be] much shorter than what we just went through. Instead of spending multiple months with thousands and thousands of people, it will be more like what we do with a flu vaccine, [with] hundreds of people tested.”

Hnida then put the process into a context that should make sense to most people: creating new coronavirus vaccines is just like putting together a LEGO set.

“If you really want to oversimplify it, you could almost look at the vaccine architecture almost like a LEGO set,” Hnida said. “If you have part of that LEGO set that just doesn’t work anymore, what you do is remove that piece and you insert a new one.”

It’s maybe not the most scientific analogy around, but it is a very reassuring one. While the pandemic’s impact on our ability to buy LEGO probably isn’t anyone’s top priority right now, it’s still good to know we can one day look forward to a future that involves us walking into a physical LEGO Store again.

This isn’t the only means by which LEGO and COVID-19 have become intertwined in recent weeks: earlier this month, NPR used LEGO bricks to illustrate the different variants of the virus.

Featured Image: Meredith Miotke for NPR

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

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