COVID-19: Will There Soon Be a Universal Vaccine That is Effective Against All Variants?

Several laboratories are trying to find a vaccine that is effective against Covid-19, as well as its variants. What is the state of research?

COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine

Current vaccines against Covid-19 are not known to be equally effective against the variants. Without waiting for the answer, several laboratories around the world are already working on a new vaccine that would be universal this time. This means that it would protect individuals not only against COVID-19 but also against all its variants. Clinical trials are currently underway and research is progressing.

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In the United States, clinical trials are showing good results

Researchers at the University of Virginia in the United States are working on another process to develop a universal vaccine. They have just presented the results of their clinical trials to the National Academy of Sciences, with good results. The vaccine acts on a part of the COVID virus’ spike protein – which, unlike the virus, does not mutate – that Covid-19 and its variants use to enter the body and cells. The scientists tested their product on pigs, animals that are genetically similar to humans. The experiment worked: After the injection, the pigs were protected not only against their species’ coronavirus but also against human SARS-CoV-2. Finally, another biotechnology company in the US, Phylex Biosciences, is working on a vaccine based on an antigen, an antibody-producing macromolecule that would contain all known mutations of Covid-19. So if it works, the vaccinated would have antibodies against all the targeted variants.

Read Also: COVID-19: The Moderna Vaccine Still Offers Some Protection Against All Current Variants

Several universal vaccines in the pipeline in France

In France, a Lyon-based biotechnology company, Osivax, is working on the development of two vaccines: one against influenza and one against COVID-19 and its variants. Indeed, the mechanisms of action of these viruses are similar, which facilitates research. For the COVID-19 vaccine, Osivax is targeting a protein an area in the spike protein, which is found in SARS-CoV-2 and remains the same even when the virus mutates. Clinical trials on animals have begun and the company hopes to have them on humans within a year. After that, commercialization will depend on the results of those clinical trials and also on health developments. “If in a year’s time we don’t have too many problems with the variants and the current vaccines protect well, it will take 3-4 years to develop this vaccine,” Alexandre Le Vert, founder of Osivax, told the Ouest France newspaper. Other French companies are also developing a universal vaccine. This is the case of OSE Immunotherapeutics, which has received approval to begin phase 1 of its clinical trials in Belgium.

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A universal nasal spray coronavirus vaccine

In Belgium, two biotechnology companies are developing a universal vaccine. The first, myNEO, is also focusing on a product that would act on the spike protein. The second, on the other hand, is focused on a vaccine developed from an antigen that contains all the mutations of SARS-CoV-2.   The vaccine however will be marketed as a nasal spray!
Currently, a dozen laboratories and biotechnology companies around the world are trying to produce a universal vaccine.

References

Killed whole-genome reduced-bacteria surface-expressed coronavirus fusion peptide vaccines protect against disease in a porcine model

A Single-Dose Intranasal ChAd Vaccine Protects Upper and Lower Respiratory Tracts against SARS-CoV-2

https://www.ouest-france.fr/sante/vaccin/covid-19-une-entreprise-francaise-planche-sur-un-vaccin-universel-35b44b0c-a9cd-11eb-82b0-b4a8260e4a53

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