Ingileif Jónsdóttir

Ingileif obtained her BSc degree in biology from the University of Iceland in 1975. She worked at the Department of Immunology, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London, UK (1975-76) and was a doctoral student at the Department of Immunology, and assistant teacher the Biology Laboratory, University of Stockholm, Sweden (1976-83). She received her Fil.Dr. degree from University of Stockholm in 1991. Since 1984 Ingileif has worked at the Department of Immunology, Landspitali, first on the immunology of psoriasis and the last 20 years mainly on vaccine research. She became Associate Professor of Immunology in 1994 and is Professor of Immunology, at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland since 2006 and Head of Division of Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases, at deCODE genetics since 2005.

Plenary talk title: Vaccines against COVID-19, a success story

Abstract: When the SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes COVID-19, was discovered its genome was immediately sequenced. This revealed that its spike protein was very similar to the Spike protein of SARS-CoV, more than MERS, viruses that caused epidemics in 2003 and 2012, respectively. Antibodies raised against the Spike protein of SARS-CoV also inhibited binding of SARS-CoV-2 to the ACE2 receptor and prevented virus entry into human cells, pointing to Spike as a promising vaccine candidate. Within a year two SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines, contraining Spike mRNA, completed development and were approved by regulatory authorities in USA and Europe and viral vector vaccines expressing Spike were licences soon after. I will disuss the development, pros and cons of different types of vaccines against COVID-19, the immune responses they induce, efficacy aganist disease, infection and transmission and safety concerns. Also vaccination of vulnerable groups and how to obtain protecitve immunity against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 (variants of concern), that are more infectious and cause more severe disease than the original virus and may escape immune defence induced by current vaccines.