A mission for universal coronavirus vaccine is underway
Numerous efforts have been made to develop pan-coronavirus immunization since the race for the first Covid jab supercharged a new generation of vaccine technology.
While vaccine manufacturers rush to eradicate new Covid-19 variants, some scientists have set their sights higher, aiming for a universal coronavirus vaccine that could combat any future strains and possibly even prevent another pandemic.
There have been numerous efforts to develop pan-coronavirus immunization since the race for the first Covid jab supercharged a new generation of vaccine technology.
One such project is being led by Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania, who pioneered the mRNA technology used in Pfizer's Covid vaccine.
He claims that the problem with updating current vaccines to target all existing strains – a plan announced earlier this month by Pfizer – is that "new variants will appear every three or six months."
Weissman added that after more than two years of simply trying to infect more people, the virus is now starting to mutate specifically to avoid the immunity gained from vaccines, much like how influenza's constant changing necessitates an updated shot every year.
"That makes it a little bit trickier, because now you're fighting head-to-head with the virus," Weissman stressed as quoted by AFP.
As a result, his team is developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine, which he said has performed well so far.
Even if none of the current pan-coronavirus vaccine projects are likely to be implemented in the coming year, their eventual arrival could transform the world's relationship with Covid.
The expansion of vaccine research horizons may also be one way Covid has compelled the world to better prepare for the threat of even worse pandemics in the future.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in the United States has set aside $200 million (185 million euros) for pan-coronavirus research.
However, it also has a $3.5 billion (3.2 billion euro) plan that it hopes will aid in the development of a vaccine targeting "the next Disease X" within 100 days of its emergence – regardless of whether it is a coronavirus.