Radio Cade

Everything You Need to Know About Vaccines and COVID-19 Part 2

March 10, 2021 Dr. Peter Khoury Season 3 Episode 28
Radio Cade
Everything You Need to Know About Vaccines and COVID-19 Part 2
Show Notes Transcript

It's been a year since we last spoke with our vaccine expert, Dr. Peter Khoury. We discuss the different types of vaccines available, if there is a best one to take, if there are side effects or dangers to be worried about, and whether or not Covid 19 will be here for the long run. 

Dr. Peter Khoury, is the President and CEO of Ology Bioservices Inc.  He is an expert on vaccines and biologics and during his 30-year career, he has worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck, and Baxter International. Dr. Khoury has involved in international forums on vaccines, pandemic planning, and biodefense preparation, including working with the Olympic Committee.

Intro:

Inventors and their inventions. Welcome to Radio Cade and podcast from the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville, Florida, the museum is named after James Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade in 1965. My name is Richard Miles. We'll introduce you to inventors and the things that motivate them, we'll learn about their personal stories, how their inventions work and how their ideas get from the laboratory to the marketplace.

James Di Virgilio:

Welcome to Radio Cade . I'm your host, James Di Virgilio. And today we are bringing you a special episode. It is part two of the, everything you need to know about vaccinations and COVID-19, it's been almost a year since I last spoke with Dr. Peter Khoury, you can catch that episode anywhere you listen to this podcast. Dr. Peter Khoury is the president and CEO of Ology, Bioservices, he's an expert on vaccines and biologics. And during his 30 year career, he's worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Merck and Baxter International. Dr. Khoury has been involved in international forums on vaccines, pandemic planning, biodefense prep, including working with the Olympic Committee. Dr. Khoury, welcome back to the show.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Thank you, James. And it's unfortunate. We can't do it in person. Certainly. I'm sure you, myself and others are so used to doing teleconferences and Zoom calls. So we'll see how this goes. And hopefully you can hear me well.

James Di Virgilio:

Yes, we can. We'll make this work last time. In our first episode, of course we were together. We were in a large room sitting far apart, but it is always great to have, of course, the person you're talking with in front of you, like all of the listeners know and understand as well. So since the last time we spoke, a lot of things have changed, but really a lot of things that you had talked about on the first episode have essentially come to pass. You mentioned there'd be a potential small wave of infections followed later on by a much larger wave of illness that certainly happened. And then we got into the discussion, which is really going to be the crux of our discussion today of essentially game theory and viruses, which again, viruses are smart. They react, they change, they have different strands. I think a lot of the public across the world has learned about these things. And how do you deal with them? How do you stay one step ahead. So let's open up now with that in the background and ask you sort of this big question, looking back now, what happened that maybe you didn't foresee the first time we spoke?

Dr. Peter Khoury:

There's a couple of things and they, I guess aren't really biology related, but they really did make an impression on me and were something I did not foresee. The first really was the amount of compassion and caring that people show when they're in uncertain circumstances. It did once again, show me that compassion is an inherent trait and caring helps ease the burden. A pandemic can cause think about the long hours and risks that healthcare workers put themselves in, especially at the beginning of COVID-19. And there was so much unknown in so many people being infected and to be an emergency room nurse or physician at that time, and having to put in those long hours and put yourself at risk and your family at risk and not really sure if one mask or two mask or a shield or what exactly was going to really protect you, but they came in for work day after day, policemen, firemen, emergency workers, all of them. It's amazing for them to really take care of those who had severe cases of COVID-19. So I think that's the first thing that I didn't really foresee that there would be that kind of positive response. And so many people that really took up caring for others. The other thing that I didn't foresee was the ability of people who may otherwise be intelligent to actively ignore the science and the data. And instead believe what I thought were ridiculous, conspiracy theories and false information generated by self-proclaimed experts whose credentials are measured by the number of people who follow them on social media. So I was surprised by that, that otherwise people that I thought were pretty intelligent would trust that for their information instead of the experts in the field. Actually, there is another thing, a third thing that I didn't really foresee a year ago, and that's really how different people's tolerance for being inconvenienced and then their mental calculation of the risk and reward removing something that is inconvenient. So simply stated their reasoning for justifying doing something that increases their risk . I happen to live out towards one of the most populated Springs in the area. And it was amazing during the weekends of this past summer, the hundreds, if not thousands of people that would go to these Springs and no mask, no nothing, whole family. And they would put themselves at risk. And it's hard for me because I wouldn't do that to actually see that. And now here we have, I think at least two States, Texas, and Mississippi that are basically taking down everything, no mask, full restaurants, everything back to normal, and I'm afraid. We're just going to see another huge wave from this. So people need to understand, yes, you're going to be in convenience for awhile , but that's the only way to stop spreading a virus like this. Or of course, get everyone vaccinated and protected at least to a number where you get protection of the movement of the virus amongst a population.

James Di Virgilio:

Yeah you mentioned an interesting narrative there with listening to experts and in my own field of investing, I like to tell people all the time, if you ask me questions about investing, I can speak as an expert in the past. This is why this strategy worked here are the data sizes and samples. Here's the research done here. So we know it's worked in the past. Here's, what's likely to work in the future, but if someone asked me six months from now, what exactly is going to happen in this market or this investment? The only right answer is, I don't know, and neither does anyone else. And there seems to be some confusion between experts that know how to speak on things that have occurred, that they've witnessed and people making prognostications, using whatever kind of modeling, either simple, or as you mentioned, an opinion that comes from your mind and gets put onto social media, prognostications are difficult, but the hard data, the data we've observed, the data we know to be true of course tells a different story. And that I think is what you're looking for. Obviously in a free society for people to begin to clean to what is the truth are things that we've observed before. So let's set the stage for vaccinations. In general, last time you had mentioned, there's essentially five main ways that you can create a vaccine to overly simplify and with Corona virus with COVID, we have essentially not used all five of them. If you could kind of walk through the landscape right now for the vaccines, we have the ones that may be worked on, and then we're going to walk through them because I know that's a huge question area for most people. Should I get an mRNA vaccine? Should I wait? What's the difference? Is it risky? So if you could set that landscape again, what these vaccines are, and then we'll dive into each one and give everyone out there a good chance to grasp what the differences are.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Sure. And I have to admit, I didn't listen before this, to what I had said a year ago, but there are tried and true methods for making a vaccine, whether it's a live attenuated vaccine, where they take either a virus or bacteria and they make it. So you have, what's called a subclinical infection where you don't really get sick from it, but your body responds as if you did. So you produce antibodies and an immune response to this modified bacteria or virus that's been attenuated, or sometimes you just kill it and put it in hall in the person. An example is at the early days of vaccines, the very first one was a smallpox vaccine made with Cowpox. And they realize that milkmaids were not getting serious cases of smallpox it's because they were infected with cowpox, which was a milder version. And that's sort of like an attenuation in a sense. And so then they were able to take that and literally just bake it or whatever you want to do to kill the bacteria and use that. Then as a virus itself, you can also put it in a mixer and slice it up and you have a bunch of small pieces of a virus or a bacteria. And I say a mixer. It's nothing like that, but you get the idea of slicing it up and in your body sees that as foreign. And it can develop an immune response to that. But the vaccines that are now on the market actually use newer technology, which really is ingenious. And unfortunately people fear mRNA's or DNA and they think, Oh, this is genetic engineering. And they're putting something into me and it's integrating into my chromosomes. And I don't know, the government can track me because of that. And it's nothing like that. Really. If you look at it in the science behind cell biology is just amazing what each of your cells can actually do. And it's really using that mechanism as a small factory in itself. So I think most people realize there's a third vaccine that was just approved by the FDA, by a company. You know, them as Johnson and Johnson, they have a subsidiary called the Anson, which is out of the Netherlands, their vaccine portion of the company. And so this new vaccine just came on the market. It's given us a single dose and the other two, which had been around now for a few months, the Pfizer in Moderna vaccines, those are really two dose vaccines. And so the Pfizer Moderna vaccine utilizes this manufacturing platform that you mentioned, which is mRNA or messenger RNA. What they do is they have this piece of genetic material that in a sense codes, it's the recipe, for what's called the spike protein or part of the spike protein, which is part of the Corona virus. And they encapsulate it in like this fatty particle. So it's called a VLP. And so inside this, let's say glob of fat, little glob of fat is this little piece of genetic code. Well you're cells need energy. And so when they see that they use that for energy, this gets injected in your arm and your cells in your arm , see that those fatty particles and they start sort of sucking them in for energy use. And as they suck them in. And the middle is this little piece of genetic material, which is the messenger RNA once inside the cell . Well , your body has all the mechanisms to take that recipe, which is in a sense listed on this piece of messenger RNA and start producing the protein it's encoded in it, which is that spike protein. So that spike protein is then released from yourselves and other cells. See, it may say, Hmm , that's not part of our body that's foreign to us. And so it generates immune response by your other cells, by your immune cells. In those remember seeing that particle after it eats it up or whatever. So it sees this spike, protein decides it's foreign to your body. The immune cell then ingests that, but it remembers seeing it. So if you're ever infected with a virus, your body immediately elicits an immune response. You don't even know you were infected because antibodies instantly take up the Corona virus that you've been infected with. And that's how you're protected by that type of vaccine. Johnson and Johnson vaccine actually uses a different type of technology. They use what's called a viral vector in what that is. It's a virus, the one they use is called adenovirus, 26. It's basically a virus that's similar to what the common cold viruses is. They genetically engineer that. So it can infect cells, but it won't replicate inside the cells. So it can't spread throughout your body and give you any kind of infection or whatever, but it does have inside of it , the genetic instructions like that recipe again, to make that spike protein that is used to elicit an immune response. So instead of being carried in these little fat or lipid balls, the genetic instructions are injected by that weakened virus into the arm cells. And then they make that particle, which is the spike protein of the Corona virus. And that again is identified by your other cells as being foreign in your body. And it elicits the immune response. So that's sort of the mechanisms for the three different viruses. Again, hearing that people consider that genetic engineering, you know , I just want to set the record straight. There is no modification of your genetics or of the virus genetics. So what is happening is, as I said, it's truly amazing. If you think about that, the cells in your body, which have all the machinery to make any kind of protein, it has the recipe for that's what's included on your chromosomes are all these recipes for proteins that make your eyes a certain color and your hair, a certain color, et cetera, all it's doing is simply introducing a new recipe, which either is delivered by a harmless virus that won't replicate or that's provided in like this little energy bar, these little lipid fat balls, and that recipe delivered uses the cell machinery to make the part of the spike protein that causes the immune response. Sorry, that's a long-winded answer, James.

James Di Virgilio:

No, it's a good start. So mRNA founded in 1990 or so essentially by a Hungarian scientist, she had this novel idea and then all the way up until COVID-19 was never used or approved. Should there be concern that it now for the first time is being used in a vaccination that is going to be used worldwide. If it's never been used in the real world before.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Now, it really should not be in the reason as is it does not modify your genetics at all. It literally is just, as I said, use the mechanism of your cell to produce a protein. I'm trying to think if there's any other comparable in either veterinary medicine and nothing's coming right to mind. But as I said, it's not genetic engineering by any means. It's literally putting a small piece of messenger RNA, which is normally in your body. So your chromosomes, which are DNA are transcribed into messenger RNA, which is read to make the proteins, this just skips the DNA part and goes right to the messenger RNA.

James Di Virgilio:

So we don't have to worry as the public, as far as we can tell scientifically that this is going to turn into something that's going to alter body chemistry cause sickness down the road have any longterm effects. As far as anyone can tell. There's nothing about these MRNs current vaccines that we should be afraid of.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Right. And it's new technology. You really can't tell the future. All indications are that it's very safe in very efficacious. The amount of clinical studies that go behind products like this before they're released is truly tremendous. I think that there would have been clear indications as they were either studying this technology early on or as it gets further on and goes through the phase one phase two and finally phase three clinical studies that there would have been warning signs that there were problems, but certainly none have arisen yet with this technology. And if you think about it, theoretically, there really is very little, if anything that could rise from having this done, but you never know until time's passed.

James Di Virgilio:

Right? The famous French economist in the 1840s, Frederick [inaudible] would talk a lot about unintended consequences of whatever you put in place in society. There are always unintended consequences that you cannot foresee, but scientifically it is good to note like you're mentioning as far as anyone can tell scientifically this is not injecting a large risk into your own body. It is not altering genetic code, as you mentioned. Um , and that that's , that's something to hang on. So now let's talk about something more nuanced. So we have two mRNA vaccinations that are available. Obviously big advantages are it's much faster to bring them to market logistically before we get into the other ones. Are there any hurdles with an mRNA vaccination logistically with regards to freezing or refrigeration or transport that maybe would give a more traditional vaccination at advantage and delivery and rollout ?

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Yeah, actually there is. I know with the mRNA vaccines, as far as the fats surrounding it, the VLP structured itself needs to be kept at low temperatures. So would that Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the storage in shipping was between minus 80 centigrade minus 60 centigrade. So that's minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit to minus one 76 Fahrenheit. So that caused a lot of trouble at first for States or for injections sites and clinics because they didn't have those special freezers. We have them because of the work we do here, but they're just not readily available. People don't keep these in physician offices , et cetera. But what they did do is immediately started looking at temperature changes and how long the vaccine in a sense could survive at regular refrigeration temperature or in a freezer, regular freezer. So the FDA did ease up on those requirements, but even now that vaccine still only can be held in a refrigerator for five days and then must be used within six hours of being thawed and diluted. So there is a small window, and it's because of those VLP that ball of fatty acid , that carries, that, that makes it. So you have to have careful handling per both the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which uses the adenovirus actually can be kept at refrigerator temperatures for up to three months. So it's far easier to store and ship because of that. Another difference between these one, as I mentioned is a one dose vaccine and that's the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the Pfizer and Moderna, the vaccines are both given as a two dose series. Obviously giving one dose is much easier since there's no follow-up visits, which involves making sure the person in the vaccine are there at the right time for dose number two. So coordinating all of that goes away, where if you do have to come back for a second dose with the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine, you obviously have to coordinate it. So the person and the doses they're at the appropriate time to administer at , but there are clinical studies were done a little differently. So when you look at the efficacy of Pfizer and Moderna, those vaccines had a rate of effectiveness during the clinical trials of 94 to 95%. So that means that they vaccinated people and they looked for antibodies production. In those people. It makes sense . Every hundred people that we vaccinated basically 95% over, I think it was four weeks had developed immunity by , in contrast with the Johnson and Johnson or the Yansen vaccine, they said it was 85% effective against severe disease and a 100% effective at preventing death. So during their clinical trials, not one person who got the vaccine. And I think there were 44,000 died from COVID-19. And I think 100% didn't even go to a hospital. There were some people that did have severe disease about 15%, and there were people that had what they call moderate to severe illness. So that would be in a sense they were home, not feeling well, et cetera. So it's hard to compare apples to oranges. In this case, since one was a two dose vaccine looking purely at efficacy and production of antibodies in the other was a one dose looking at severity of illness. So getting either vaccine is a great thing to do. If you get the one dose vaccine, you don't have to go back for a second dose, but there is some chance that if you're exposed to COVID, you may get a mild illness from COVID. And in fact, there's a lower chance of only 15% that you could have a severe illness from that. We don't know if you'll die from it, but for the 44,000 people they had in their clinical studies, I think it was 44,000. None of them died from illness. So I think those really are the main differences. There's a little difference as far as how quickly you're protected that Johnson and Johnson vaccine works about two weeks after people get vaccinated with Madonna and Pfizer people don't get full protection until about two weeks after the second dose. And the second dose is usually three to four weeks after the first dose. So from the very first dose, you're talking five to six weeks after the first dose and you're fully protected.

James Di Virgilio:

Let's bring this down to the granular level now and get to a decision point. So let's assume, and I'm going to throw a fourth one in here with Novavax, which may or may not come through, but it's another different type vaccine just to give us the thought experiment of being, let's say late August, you haven't had a vaccination yet. And you have this choice in front of you. You essentially have the mRNA, which you've mentioned is Moderna and Pfizer. You have Johnson and Johnson, and then you have Novavax, which is going to be one of the most traditional and time-tested vaccinations. If it makes it again, we're speculating here, just to give an idea of what this may look like, and you have a choice. Does it matter Dr. Khoury, which one you choose? Is it simply saying, you know, it doesn't really matter. Take either one of these for convenience or one you can follow through on, or is there a more educated decision that needs to be made if you're facing a choice between these let's call them three different vaccine deployments,

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Right? Of course, a choice like that is personal on whether people want it to be vaccinated or not. I would say that the first hurdle is get vaccinated. There is no doubt that vaccination protects you when it comes to the choice. And there are so many people in videos, out of people, literally on their death bed, dying of COVID by themselves, in a hospital saying, I wish I had not gone to that party. I wish I had done this or that. You may think you're otherwise healthy, but you're playing Russian roulette with something that impacts people in very different ways. Even though they think that I've never been sick in my life, this couldn't impact me. You would be surprised at the number of younger people and other people that get this disease and either suffer long-term consequences from that, or truly die within a few weeks of contracting the virus. The question is if you had the choice of vaccines, which one based on the technology used would be better. I always tell everyone if it's been reviewed by the FDA in the United States or the other one is the Korean FDA. Korea has an incredibly competent FDA based really off the US FDA and both are very, very good at looking at the risk and rewards of every vaccine, European union, also very particular and conscientious about looking at the impact of vaccines. So I would say that if it's been approved by the FDA in the United States, it's a safe and effective product . So if Novavax does get approval, I would not hold back at all on getting that vaccine versus either Moderna Pfizer or the J&J products. All of them are winners. If you get at , if you're needle shy, obviously you may want the one dose versus the two dose. So there may be some advantages mentally for you there. If you want to make sure the odds of being protected the best look at efficacy after two doses, it's much higher than it would be after one dose. But again, all of them are safe, effective vaccines, and the technology makes very little difference in this case.

James Di Virgilio:

So the take home there is assuming that they all have FDA approval and you have that choice. The reality is you don't need to spend a ton of time researching which one to get, because the odds are, all of them, of course are going to work for you. And there's just different sort of personal mechanisms. Like you mentioned one dose or two things like that. But right now there's not a significant difference that should have you necessarily favoring one over the other. If you're looking to get a vaccine.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Right. Just based on the last sentence you mentioned, I'm not sure what the composition is of the vaccine that may come out later on this year, but I know the Moderna, the Pfizer, the J&J vaccines do not have adjutants in them. So in they're not produced like an egg. So if you have an allergy to eggs or egg protein, it's no issue with these vaccines. If you have been issue , there's what are called adjuvants, they help boost the immune system with certain vaccines. None of these have this. So they're pretty pure vaccines. Some of the older technology you've had to use either a chicken, eggs, or hens eggs to produce the product. I think the one you had mentioned is a Viro cell product . So it is not produced in, in hens eggs, but some of that older technology does use adjutants and other things, which is that chemical treatment. So some people have had reactions to that in the past.

James Di Virgilio:

To look for individual things that maybe you yourself have an allergy to, or , or some reaction to, but all in all, if it gets FDA approval at this stage, it's gone through the rigors. And if you want to get a vaccination again, no need to sparse out exactly which one to get. The differences are not going to be, as you mentioned significant, despite the fact that they are in fact different delivery mechanisms. Now let's talk about different variants. This has obviously gotten a lot of news play here. When we first talked, we talked about how stable COVID-19 was. Uh , we also talked about, of course, the fact that virus has changed and that we could expect COVID-19 to change. We just didn't know how yet, given what you've seen with the variants . And we know we've seen numbers, Johnson and Johnson is almost 70% effective against variants. Each one of these is a different number. What is this variant landscape look like to you? And I know you don't see the future, but as of right now, if I get a vaccine tomorrow, do I have decent protection against the variants we're aware of right now?

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Yeah . It's important that people get vaccinated as quickly as possible because the quicker we can shut down the circulation of this, the chances of it mutating in doing what I had talked about is drifting and shifting gets eliminated. So through replication, that genetics change is virus adapt to their surroundings, just like humans do. If you look back at Neanderthals and us you realize that certain people are born with traits that allow them to survive better. In certain circumstances, that's true with virus and bacteria. It just happens thousands and thousands of times faster than we replicate. So literally in 24 hours, virus have gone through 10,000 fold replications where humans takes nine months to birth out a baby. And it literally happens so fast that these genetic changes in that adaptation to your surrounding can happen very quickly. And as long as those changes have little impact on the spike protein, that's a protein has been utilized by all manufacturers that I can think of as the target for the immune response, then really vaccinating now should protect you against most of the variants. The variants, it wouldn't protect against would be ones that have totally shifted away from that current spike protein configuration. So if there's a little drifting away that protection will go down a little bit. Some people won't be protected as well, but if there's a major shift, it doesn't provide any protection. Now you don't know if that's going to happen. I talked to other people that are experts in the field, and some believe what'll happen is this'll become like the yearly flu vaccine that will be able to see the shifting happening in other parts of the world. And people will just change the messenger RNA or whatever it is that's coding for the latest variant that's circulating around the world. And then a few years later, if it changes again, you need to get another dose of vaccine against that. I'm hoping we don't have to do that. I'm hoping that we're able to shut this down as quickly as possible and make it just a one-time pandemic event and basically eliminate it from the world soon.

James Di Virgilio:

And that's a great point. And that's something again, that wisdom would say, no one knows the answer to that question, but certainly we hope that COVID is not here to stay like influenza or influenza has some mutation strains that become very famous, like the Hong Kong flu in the sixties, for example, right. That's influenza just a different strand. It's still here today. Obviously it's just not that significant bumps. So that's a , we're all hoping for, as you mentioned, and of course, like you said, one of the best ways to make sure that happens is if everyone does get vaccinated faster than you're going to give this virus less of a chance to make these game theory changes, to look at what humans are doing and respond and say, okay, well, I'll do this to try to keep myself alive. Essentially you're reducing its options. And if you're doing this options further enough, it may just totally be gone. Of course, that is over simplification . So here's a question for you. What happened to the flu in this flu season? The CDC records indicate that the flu is essentially non-existent despite about a million tests. You've had very few positive results at all. Hospital admissions are down to levels, never seen before. What does influenza and COVID have to do with each other? What does this mean for the future? Any thoughts on that?

Dr. Peter Khoury:

What we may be seeing is just impacted by the distance. People keep from each other and making sure they're washing their hands, wearing masks, all of that impact flu also the transmission of flu. So I think flu is still here. There are cases, but people have become very conscientious about spreading viral diseases during this time. I think once the unmasking happens and people are back to what we consider a normal life, I think you'll see dlu come back to the levels that it was before.

James Di Virgilio:

Yeah. It's an interesting thing to follow, obviously, because one of the major fears was, you know, what if you had COVID and influenza stacked on top of each other, and we don't know yet how much these things co-mingle. Do you get one and not the other, can you get both in States like Florida, which had been largely open, you still have extremely low or non-existent really statistically influenza cases. There's just a lot that we will unpack obviously in the future. All right . Let's ask you this big question before we talk about what you were working on to close up today's episode. So let's put you in hindsight mode a year ago. If you knowing what you know now had the power to implement one change to impact the outcome of what we've gone through in the past year or so, what would that change have been?

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Hmm , I think if truly there was a chance of getting all governments in the world together. I mean, that would potentially never happen. But I think in hindsight, if they were able to take a year and take a look at where we are now and the impact that it's had on people's lives. So the morbidity, the mortality, the impact on economics, all of that. And you could take all the decision-makers to this time and look back. I think all of them would agree that if we literally shut the world down for a week, made everyone stay home, put in very, very serious measures, whether it was a week or even two weeks that we could have stopped this right at the beginning, it literally wouldn't have been able to become what it did. And if you look back at countries going to use Korea as an example where they did exactly that, or China or India, here's a country with over a billion people and boy did an impact the number of cases they had much less than we have, but it's an inconvenience obviously to do it. And if we had done something like that worldwide for a week or two, of course, people would have been inconvenience without knowing in the future of the impact or what that could prevent from happening. So looking back and having that hindsight now it's nothing I could have done alone or whatever, but that would have been my advice to get as many people to stay home and watch Netflix or whatever you want to do for two weeks. Just get ready, implemented day that it starts in the day and the day it ends and enforce it .

James Di Virgilio:

Yeah. It's so interesting that the topic for a whole different podcast, like you mentioned, the hindsight hindsight analysis is always undefeated because you have information you don't have. And as you mentioned, the question then becomes, how many days is it? How long is it? What if it doesn't work the way we think it works? So then what happens is there's a lot of decision points, but that's why it's a hindsight question is knowing what we now know that it did spread, it was highly contagious. It was going to go all over the world. Of course, as with any virus, if you can isolate you reduce the spread, right? It's like playing tag as a kid. If you're too fast and they can't touch you and tag you, then you're not going to be it. And so , uh , that's an oversimplification, but that's a good point about potentially the future. What do you do the next time this happens and what happens if it does fade away and its own. Okay. Will you said we lost 14 days, 14 days, certainly a lot better than a year. So lots of interesting thoughts there, let's bring this right back down to what you and your company are working on. Tell us a little bit about an update. Last time we spoke, you are working on something COVID related. Tell us what's going on with that.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Yeah, so we work with the US government on a couple projects, specifically with the department of defense to help protect military personnel and war fighters. And so we manufacture a vaccine for COVID-19 and we manufacture what are called monoclonal antibodies, which are also utilized to protect and treat, actually treat COVID infections. Both of these are in clinical studies. Currently we are expanding here in the Gainesville area. We're in Alachua, we're doubling our capacity . So the construction is underway for this. And I think it's a great opportunity for this region because of University of Florida, some of the great research that goes on at that university in gene therapy and cell therapy, and in vaccines, it makes a lot of sense for us to make an investment, expand our workforce. So we've almost doubled our workforce. Since I last spoke to you, we're over 300 employees during 2021, we expect to expand by over a hundred more employees. So there's a lot happening here. All of that, very cutting edge science and all use to provide protection against infectious diseases.

James Di Virgilio:

And let me bridge a gap here, because this could be maybe the best way to end this podcast. You obviously are an established expert in this field. You're an expert on viruses on vaccinations, on deliveries. You've done it for your whole career. If you saw something that you thought was risky or reckless or not good for society or the population I'm imagining you would be standing on the rooftop, shouting this out, don't take this vaccination, don't do this. This is not safe. That would be correct.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

It's funny, James, because those that know me well, including our employees here, know that I speak the truth, I have great courage of conviction about what I say. My father was a United Methodist minister. My mom was a nurse that took care of some of the riskiest patients and both were just devoted people to what they did. And I think one of the most important things for any human being is their own dignity and not being able to stand up for what you think is right. And when you see something that, especially if you're a professional and you know, information, not raising your hand saying that there's an issue in something's wrong is not good at all. So it's not part of my being to ever cover anything up or whatever. And that's a philosophy actually of our business here. I attend every one of our new employee orientations. And I tell them that everyone has the right to stop the process. If you see something being wrong done, or you've done something wrong immediately, we will stop. We'll look at it, figure a fix and find a way of putting a parameter around it. So it never happens again. That's all I care about. No one's getting fired. You're not going to be yelled at. We're going to find a way. So it doesn't happen again and fix what happened. That's all there is to it.

James Di Virgilio:

Yeah. That's such a great commitment. And I think that perhaps is something that's really gotten lost during this pandemic, is that not everyone is on two sides of offense fighting with each other and not every expert one way or the other is out there just trying to run a political agenda. It's safe to say that many people are doing exactly what you said. Hey, if I think this science looks good or this looks good, I'm going to say this is safe. And if it's not, I would say the opposite. And perhaps that bridge, as we mentioned, is something to move forward as a free society in the future. We're looking for truth via evidence and data. And recognizing, as you mentioned, there's a lot of people with that, very commitment. You're simply trying to follow the evidence and say, Hey, look, I think this is what's best for you and your family. You're my neighbor. I love you. I care for you. And this is why I'm saying that. So a wonderful stuff as always, thank you for being with us. He is Dr. Peter Khoury, the president and CEO of Ology, Bioservices. You can find them on the web with a quick Google search. And of course, as we mentioned before, your illustrious bio, an expert on vaccines and biologics, and certainly one of our favorite guests here on the Radio Cade podcast. Thank you for spending a considerable amount of time with us today, Dr. Khoury.

Dr. Peter Khoury:

Always my pleasure, James, thank you.

James Di Virgilio:

And for Radio Cade I'm James Di Virgilio.

Outro:

Radio Cade is produced by the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention located in Gainesville FL. This podcast episodes host was James Di Virgilio and Ellie Thom coordinates, inventor interviews, podcasts are recorded at Heardwood Soundstage, and edited and mixed by Bob McPeak. The Radio Cade theme song was produced and performed by Tracy Collins and features violinists , Jacob Lawson.