Scientists have been trying to find a universal vaccine for many years to fight against mutant viruses, especially influenza viruses. Such vaccines should allow people to permanently protect against all strains of the virus through a single vaccination, instead of being vaccinated year after year with new vaccines designed based on the latest circulating strains.
At the end of last year, scientists in the magazine Natural medicine Announced that they have initiated the first clinical trials of this vaccine in humans and have produced promising results. If successful, it will be an important step in the fight against the flu, which kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year.
Similarly, someone has proposed an initiative to find a universal vaccine that can prevent all Beta coronaviruses (one of the four coronaviruses). Seven types of viruses are infectious to humans, four of which cause mild colds, and three types-SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2- are often fatal.
In 2017, three leading vaccine researchers submitted an ambitious plan to develop a funding application for a generic vaccine against the beta genus. At the time, no one had developed an effective vaccine against any coronavirus. According to a report in Science, project reviewers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) rated the program as “extraordinary.” However, the priority of the proposal is low, which is why it has not received financial support.
Critics wrote: “The importance of developing pancreatic virus vaccines may not be high.” Obviously, they are convinced that these viruses will not pose a global threat.
At the same time, the situation has changed dramatically. The covida-19 pandemic shows that the coronavirus will not only attack humans, but also many important animals of social and economic significance, such as cats, camels, horses, pigs, rabbits, nerves, as well as bats, birds, and shellfish. And other animals, they can become very serious. A global threat, because due to their close and frequent contact with humans, it is always possible for them to jump from animals to humans. Experts estimate that some new coronaviruses may cause new pandemics in the next few decades.
“In the next 10 to 50 years, we are likely to have another SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus attack,” said Andrew Ward, a structural biologist at Scripps Research, who submitted it in 2017 One of the scientists suggested by the project, but was rejected.
In November 2020, the NIAID agency invited scientists to submit emergency funding applications to continue the development of pancreatic virus vaccines. In March, the International Non-profit Organization for Epidemic Prevention Innovation (CEPI), an international non-profit organization established in 2017, announced that it would spend US$200 million on a new plan to accelerate the production of β-coronavirus vaccines.
The agency has not awarded any new grants, but Ward’s laboratory is already working on a vaccine against part of the beta coronavirus. In addition to his teams around the world, there are about 20 other teams working on similar projects. Their methods are diverse, including new virus particles coated with virus particles, mRNA-based vaccines that have proven very successful against SARS-CoV-2, and a mixture of various inactivated coronaviruses. Several teams even released promising animal test results, which is usually a necessary prerequisite for human testing. Testing on humans has not yet begun.
So far, it is not even known how to use this vaccine. One possibility is to keep it to prevent new threats to mankind.
Ward said: “We can vaccinate everyone to generate a basic level of immunity in them, so that they can also resist new viruses, so that we have time to buy until we develop a more specific vaccine.”
It should be remembered that there is something called cross immunity, which means that the immune system can recognize and respond to people who have not been vaccinated, but it is related to people who have been vaccinated (scientists say they have similar epitopes)-immune cells A site that can be recognized by the system or antibody.
Although there are many unknowns, the rapid success in developing the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has stimulated people’s optimism. As the example of Israel shows, this coronavirus seems to be difficult to stop with a vaccine, which raises the hope that the immune system can also be trained to outperform relatives. Those who overcome SARS a few years ago provided the basis for more optimism. That is, it has been shown that some of their antibodies can also stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the laboratory.
Barney Graham of NIAID helped develop a Modern mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. He is optimistic about the pan-coronavirus vaccine.
“Compared with influenza and HIV, this will be relatively easy to achieve,” Graham predicted.