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We Can’t Wait For The Universal COVID Vaccine

  • August 18, 2023
  • 7 min read
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We Can’t Wait For The Universal COVID Vaccine

Absolutely! They are already looking for a universal vaccine against COVID. The buzz around is that a new universal COVID vaccine is being developed. However, we comprehend that creating and testing a vaccine is time-consuming, so it may take some time before it is available. In the meantime, adheringit to public health guidelines and available vaccines is vital to safeguard ourselves and others from COVID-19.

Uprooting Potentials Of Universal COVID Vaccine 

More and more studies establish that viruses similar to the coronavirus (SARS) can pass from animals to people hundreds of thousands of times a year, making possible new adaptations in humans and, therefore, the development of pandemics.

Recently, a work under review based on samples from the Indochina peninsula concludes that these viruses can rush over wide geographic ranges in bat reservoirs, frequently infecting people who work in caves, who spend time in or near the caves, as well as tourists are at particular risk of exposure.  In addition, we must remember that we also depend on the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 (covid-19) variants associated with global vaccination campaigns to maintain the efficacy of current vaccines. For this reason, it is vital to continue innovating new vaccination strategies that cover

the majority of coronaviruses of animal origin, as well as new variants derived from SARS-CoV-2, like the universal COVID vaccine

Science continues searching for a new universal COVID vaccine that covers most coronaviruses (pan-coronavirus). With this objective, several works have shown essential results. A paper in the journal Science analyzed the structure and activity of antibodies with a broad capacity to neutralize beta-coronaviruses, a genus to which the coronaviruses responsible for SARS, MERS and covid-19 also belong. Knowledge of these antibodies allows the guided design of a new generation of vaccines against these viruses.

After the lesson learned in this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we must anticipate the possible success of new coronaviruses and their SARS-CoV-2 variants, using science as a basis for monitoring potential animal reservoirs, together with the development of measures of prevention such as universal vaccines applied to populations at highest risk of contagion.

So far, however, a “generic” or “universal” flu vaccine does not exist.

Scientists have been trying this for the flu for years. And for this reason, it is necessary to develop a different vaccine and get vaccinated before each winter to avoid getting sick. Hence, the eyeballs are on the universal COVID vaccine.

 In 2016, a team from the Baylor College of Medicine in the United States proposed creating a “pan-vaccine” or universal COVID vaccine, but funding was denied. Perhaps the success achieved with the first immunizations against COVID-19 will now achieve what could not be done in the past: develop the best vaccine to combat covid-19 and its variants.

 For now, different laboratories have put their efforts into achieving a “pan-vaccine” or universal COVID vaccine that works not only against the variants of SARS-COV-2 but also against its relatives: SARS and MERS, the other coronaviruses that have caused epidemics. And also against possible coronaviruses that jump in the future from some animal species to humans.

 Universal COVID Vaccine: The Most Anticipated Against COVID-19

Universal COVID vaccine projects are currently under development. It is necessary to continuously monitor virus mutations in animal species such as bats, pangolins, mink or camels. In addition, work must be done on designing universal structures of particles and microscopic vehicles that can be adapted to different antigens or components of the virus capable of awakening the production of antibodies in humans.

Universal COVID Vaccine: Will It Attack Variants

 Most companies aim to assemble different spike protein fragments from different coronavirus strains and variants. But some are looking for different paths, like using the capsule that covers the virus as an antigen -since it mutates less than the spike- generating universal neutralizing antibodies or, train the T cells of the immune system to identify and destroy human cells infected with various coronaviruses.

 Finding A “Generic” Vaccine Is An Immemorial Dream For Humanity.

 Scientists know the coronavirus is continually mutating, and the next pandemic is approaching. The first vaccine platform that seems to agree with Fauci was published in Nature last week. According to Kevin Saunders and colleagues at Duke University in the United States, a lab-engineered RNA-based nanoparticle with an adjuvant substance effectively generated neutralizing antibodies against several coronaviruses in animals.

For this reason, we believe this vaccine is effective against SARS-CoV-1, SARS-COV-2, and at least four of its most common variants, as well as against coronaviruses that infect animals”.

Universal COVID Vaccine: A Complete Free Vaccine

Seven people die every minute from COVID-19 in the world. We want the pandemic to end and the economy to recover, but we need the vaccine available to everyone as soon as possible. While European countries border on group immunity due to high vaccination, there are countries like Congo or Chad where only 1 in 2,000 people have received the vaccine. Not even health personnel are protected.

What’s Going On?

Pharmaceutical companies have received billions of euros of public money to develop the vaccine. Yet, they control the price and patents of the medicines created with that taxpayer money. If these large multinationals shared science and technology, the mass production and distribution of affordable vaccines could be accelerated worldwide.

Vaccines created with public money must be available to those who need them. A broad suspension of the intellectual property of vaccines, tests and medical treatments is necessary.

Injustice In Data

  • 9 out of 10 people in the poorest countries will not have access to vaccines this year.
  • The vaccine business has created nine new billionaires. Their combined wealth would be enough to vaccinate the entire population of low-income countries.
  • The current vaccination rate will take low-income countries 57 years to vaccinate their entire population.
  • The virus threatens to lead to malnutrition for 132 million more people.

What Do We Ask For

  • Universal COVID Vaccine for the people: patent-free, mass-produced, equitably distributed, and freely available to everyone, rich and poor.
  • Suspend patents on vaccines, treatments and tests against COVID-19 at the World Trade Organization, as India and South Africa requested, seconded by 60 countries.
  • Develop production capacities globally, share vaccine technologies and knowledge, and achieve pooled access to technologies against COVID-19, as requested by the WHO.

 The challenge is immense, but the reward is more.

 The company VBI, from Cambridge, has already developed a vaccine with three different proteins: “spike” -the spike is the nerve center of the coronavirus-, one belonging to SARS, another to MERS and another to SARS COV-2.

When tested on animals, it worked to prevent these diseases and also the common cold. The lab will begin testing it in humans this year, with support from Canada.  For their part, at the Caltech Institute in California, they inserted eight different spikes into a central nanoparticle, which also generated antibodies in mice.

 Researchers in the United States have already begun phase 1 testing of a vaccine against different variants of coronavirus. Even Cuba and China have a joint project to produce a pan-vaccine against the coronavirus. Israel and France have also put their hands to work.

Universal COVID Vaccine: Nasal Vaccines

Another promising approach is represented by a new generation of anti-Covid vaccines, the spray ones, which can induce immunity in the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, blocking the infection at its birth port, thus preventing the virus from starting its journey to the lungs, perhaps contributing to the so-called sterilizing immunity or the condition in which the vaccinated person does not become infected and does not infect others.

The beauty of this vaccine is that it provides significant protection, but the immunity is long-lasting, and the T and B cells remain on the mucosal surface. So far, the Universal COVID Vaccine trials are awaited.

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Fatima Humayun

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