Hopeful New Entry In The Race For A Universal Covid Vaccine

A recent paper published by a team of scientists in Sweden boasts the ambitious title: “A universal SARS-CoV DNA vaccine inducing highly cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies and T cells”. This claim of a universal SARS-CoV vaccine would be good news if the paper measured up to its title. The study offers some interesting insights and may be of use for the creation of more broadly active SARS-CoV vaccines. However, the approach of this group of scientists seems hopeful if nothing else.

To understand the issue with their approach, let’s take a step back. Current variations of the SARS-CoV vaccine rely on a singular feature of the virus: the spike protein. There are two widely accepted forms of these SARS-CoV vaccines. These are the adenovirus vector vaccine and the mRNA vaccine.

Both the adenovirus vector vaccine and the mRNA vaccine rely on introducing a slightly modified version of the spike protein to the body, causing the body to respond by creating antibodies against the spike protein.

These vaccines have proven to be highly effective at reducing serious illness and death across a wide variety of SARS-CoV variants. Unfortunately, the immunity they provide against infection and transmission is short-lived and seemingly depends on very high levels of antibodies. When the level of antibodies begins to fall or when a new spike protein variant appears and is unrecognizable to our antibodies, protection against infection quickly fades.

This means that there exists a need to create a vaccine that can protect the body from all SARS-CoV variants and that maintains high levels of antibodies. The research group from Sweden proposes to address this question in two different ways.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.