Could a Single Vaccine Protect Against Covid-19 and Future Coronaviruses?
Scientists are working on a ‘universal’ coronavirus vaccine
Covid-19 isn’t the first coronavirus outbreak. Before SARS-CoV-2, there was SARS and then MERS. All three viruses likely spilled over from bats. Hundreds more coronaviruses are out there lurking in nature, waiting for the opportunity to infect humans. And next time, it could be far worse than the current pandemic.
While Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines appear to be highly effective against Covid-19 symptoms, they could be rendered useless if SARS-CoV-2 mutates too much or a completely new coronavirus emerges in the future. To thwart the next coronavirus pandemic, some scientists are calling for investment in a “universal” coronavirus vaccine that protects against several strains of viruses from the same family.
The idea comes from previous research on a universal flu vaccine, which has been in the works for decades. A universal flu vaccine hasn’t materialized yet, but scientists are optimistic that with enough investment and cooperation among scientists, a vaccine that provides broad protection against many types of coronaviruses may soon be possible.
In a story for our sister publication Future Human, I looked at some of the efforts across government, academia, and the biotech industry to develop such a vaccine.