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Ask HN: Why isn't there a vaccine for strep?
6 points by AnimalMuppet 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments
ELI5 (or at least like I'm not a microbiologist): Why can't we vaccinate for strep?

For that matter, why can't we vaccinate for AIDS?

Strep throat is caused by bacteria. Vaccines are for viral infections. Viruses are very simple. They consist of a protein casing with a RNA inside. Your body fights viruses by producing specialized cells that match to the protein casing of viruses in your body. Each virus has a unique casing and your body must produce unique antibodies for each one. Every virus you've ever had is still part of your body. This is why you only get chickenpox once but can get shingles later on if your body becomes stressed. They're caused by the same virus. It never leaves you. You're body is just typically able to keep it from causing damage unless it becomes weak. Viruses also mutate quickly meaning your body needs to produce new antibodies to fight it. Vaccines work by supplying your body with inactive viral cells that your body uses to develop antibodies. This is why they produce new flu vaccines each year. Each strain of the flu is a different virus and the flu virus mutates particularly quickly. AIDs and HIV vaccines don't work because those viruses attack your immune system directly destroying the cells that produce antibodies. This is why you typically don't die from AIDS itself but one of the many diseases you can get after your immune system is compromised.

This is incorrect. Look at your country's vaccination schedule, it probably includes vaccines against the following diseases which are caused by bacteria:

- Meningococcal, pneumococcal and haemophilus influenzae type b (bacteria that cause meningitis and pneumonia)

- Pertussis (whooping cough)

- Tetanus and diphtheria (although these are slightly different in that the vaccine provides immunity to toxins produced by the bacteria which cause the diseases)

No. There are also vaccines for bacterial infections.

The most famous is the anti Tuberculosis vaccine / BCG https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuberculosis_vaccines but I think it's usually not applied in USA.

Another one is DPT that is a combination against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DPT_vaccine

So, if I understand what you said correctly, we can't vaccinate for bacteria because they're too complicated? They don't have consistent enough (or unique enough) surface protein?

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