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Bayer Executive Labels mRNA Vaccines As Gene Therapy While Skeptics Differ

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The COVID-19 pandemic was a watershed moment in developing messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and gene therapy. Earlier cell and gene therapy was a controversial topic with much resistance within the scientific community. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the fast-tracking of research in messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines have made gene therapy more amenable to the scientific community.

mRNA Vaccines More Acceptable

In October 2021, a speech made last year by a Bayer executive underlined that gene therapy is being mentioned on social media again. The person was Stefan Oelrich, a member of the Board of Management of Bayer and head of the Pharmaceuticals Division. He delivered a speech at the World Health Summit focused on biotechnological innovation.

Stefan Oelrich said his company is “really taking that leap … in cell and gene therapy. Ultimately, the mRNA vaccines exemplify cell and gene therapy. I always like to say, if we had surveyed two years ago in public—’would you be willing to take gene or cell therapy and inject it into your body?’—we probably would have had a 95 percent refusal rate,”

It has been possible only due to the pandemic, which has thrown open several opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry, which may not have been possible before.

Oelrich said, “I think this pandemic has also opened many people’s eyes to innovation in a way that was maybe not possible before. But it’s not just the industry that has to innovate. It’s across all the value chains starting with the academia and university, and again, the World Health Summit.”

mRNA Vaccine It Only Reduces The Severity And Complications

However, many detractors say that Oelrich’s speech was taken out of context and distorted reports gene and cell therapy referred by Oelrich may be innovative technology but not fit to be referred to as a vaccine since it only reduces the severity and complications of the disease and does not protect against infection, viral replication, or transmission. Instead, it can be best referred to as medication that prevents complications and possibly death.