One of the difficulties in producing effective vaccines is that most of the viruses mutate at a rapid rate. This allows viruses to evade the antibodies used in a vaccine and in turn, not get killed during the process. While we can’t get into all of the science behind vaccines and what’s needed to master the creation of said vaccines, we can discuss a process that’s called a viral escape.
Viral escape is what occurs when the virus mutates so quickly that the vaccine is no longer a viable option to protect the person from the virus. This process is a big problem according to MIT researchers and they’re not sure what to do about it.
Viral escape is one of the main reasons there’s not a cure for HIV or influenza because the viruses mutate so quickly that it’s impossible to create a universal vaccine or cure for either of these viruses.
At this point, HIV and influenza mutate faster than any other virus we’ve known about. Certain genetic mutations occur at various rates that researchers and scientists are still trying to figure out a way to protect human beings from some of these viruses.
For the viruses to mutate they must change the shape of the proteins that make up the virus. This changes the shape of the surface so that antibodies no longer work to protect the person from this virus. This keeps the vaccine from binding to the virus but keeps the change just low enough that it can still attack the human.
Scientists must evaluate the genetic sequences of these viruses to develop a pattern of change to try to create a universal antibody that will work regardless of the mutation the virus creates. As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult to do especially with new viruses such as our current pandemic situation.
In essence, the virus wants to escape the immune system to attack the host’s body without destroying its potency. This means there has to be some genetic mutation sequence that occurs and can be determined, in time. The viruses we see around the world are pretty smart for little particles. They know how to offset their appearance just enough to trick the antibodies into not protecting against them while still infecting the host.
While we can say it’s quite impressive what viruses are capable of, it doesn’t lend us much hope that we’ll ever know a cure for certain viruses anytime soon. It’s going to take hours and perhaps years of evaluating how genetic mutations occur with each virus and how a person’s genetics or DNA can impact how the virus can escape the immune system.