SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Dr. Anthony Fauci and other scientists are calling for a universal coronavirus vaccine that would protect against undiscovered coronaviruses. It would require extensive research into the nature of coronavirus protective immunity, which includes human volunteers who willingly expose themselves to coronavirus, scientists from the National Institute of Health said.
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They admit that the virus which causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is unlikely to be eliminated and will likely circulate “indefinitely” in periodic outbreaks.
The COVID-19 vaccines we have available now will eventually need to be replaced by a stronger formula that will “induce more broadly protective and more durable immunity,” Fauci and Drs. David M. Morens and Jeffery K. Taubenberger wrote in an article published Wednesday.
Just within the past two decades, the world has experienced four deadly coronavirus outbreaks, according to the scientists. These include SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome, 2002 and 2003), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome, since 2012), and our current attacker, COVID-19.
They anticipate that an unknown number of possibly contagious and deadly animal coronaviruses could emerge again — requiring an immediate, international effort into researching and producing this universal coronavirus vaccine.
Here are some of the necessary properties that Fauci, Morens and Taubenberger want to see in the universal vaccine:
- Prevents clinical disease
- Prevents infection by all sarbecoviruses and merbecoviruses
- Prevents infection by viral drift and recombination variants
- Elicits a rapid and robust immune response
- Does not have limited vaccine immunogenicity in persons with preexisting immunity
- Induces immunity to multiple viral components
- Is safe and acceptable to the public
- Is safe for pregnant women
- Does not induce antibody-dependent enhancement with subsequent wild-type virus exposure
- Can be used in persons of all ages
- Covers all sarbecoviruses and merbecoviruses
- Covers all endemic human coronaviruses
- Can be used for pandemic prevention
- Is based on a platform that is easily upgraded with new antigens
The scientists said carefully controlled studies involving humans and studies with animals “could greatly improve the efficacy of universal coronavirus vaccines by helping to define immunogen design and the optimal routes and manner of vaccination.”
The current COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, but “breakthrough” infections are still occurring in vaccinated individuals. They also haven’t stopped the emergence of contagious variants. The scientists said it remains unknown whether, and how, permanent immunity can be achieved.