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Virginia Tech professor researches vaccine efficacy

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Category: research Video duration: Virginia Tech professor researches vaccine efficacy

Kate Langwig, an infectious disease ecologist and assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, is researching ways to improve vaccine efficacy.

[00:00:01] >> I'm Kate Langwig and I'm an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. One of the things that I was really interested in understanding is how much variation among individuals, as well as how much pathogen they're exposed, to influences the efficacy of vaccines. For example, we wanted to know if you were exposed to a really large amount of pathogens -- say you're chasing a sick kid, wiping his nose or helping him --are you more likely to get sick even if you've been vaccinated than somebody who might just have a casual encounter on the subway? [00:00:36] We used a mathematical modeling approach as well as a systematic literature review and what we found based on our mathematical simulations was that is in fact true. So if you have a higher rate of pathogen exposure, you're vaccine protectiveness is lower. I think the biggest surprise was there was actually the systematic literature review that several undergrads in my lab helped with. [00:00:59] What we were really surprised to find after reviewing nearly 6,000 articles was that there were only 9 studies that had ever actually tested whether this effect had occurred. The ones we did find were generally consistent with what our mathematical modeling had found. So where I'd like to take this study next is to actually do some mathematical modeling to say how much does this variation among individuals influence the size of the disease outbreak.