A Powerful New Vaccine for Coronavirus Is in Trials and Could Change the World

Where is this vaccine? A progress report would be helpful.

Science. 2020 Oct 9; 370(6513):203–208

On December 22, 2021 DefenseOne announced:

Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide.

This vaccine is based on Spike Ferritin Nanoparticles (SpFN). Human trials were completed in December. Results looked good, and an in-depth review began. Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials with humans will begin upon completion of the review.

Time is required to find and qualify volunteers for the trials. We are talking how to design and run a meaningful test given the variety of COVID-19 variants, infections, and vaccinations that are present in the world population right now. This takes time and very careful work, but an update would be great.

This vaccine is especially interesting because it apparently covers all variants of coronavirus. That’s a big claim. It includes other coronaviruses that have caused outbreaks and epidemics in the past, such as SARS, and others that might emerge in the future. Walter Reid is working with a commercial partner that they have not yet named publicly. Also, there was no mention of whether it would be a one-time inoculation or require periodic boosters.

Research was initiated about two years ago. It made sense to develop a vaccine that covers all coronavirus to protect U.S. military and government personnel across the globe where they might be exposed to all sorts of the virus. We would all benefit as the vaccine is commercialized — provided it passes the next two phases of testing in people.

I believe we could rest easier as we move into yet another season where the current version of COVID-19 is disappearing and hope is alive. If we knew a universal and exceptionally powerful vaccine would be available were the damned COVID-19 to return in the fall in North America or elsewhere at any time.

Brief Description of the SpFN Vaccine Tech Details

The Walter Reid Army Institute of Research wrote a clear and concise note that explains the overall technology.

The SpFN vaccine is a protein subunit nanoparticle vaccine platform, meaning it presents a fragment of a virus to the immune system to elicit a protective response. SpFN comprises multiple coronavirus Spike proteins linked to the surface of a multifaceted ferritin nanoparticle. Researchers hypothesize that presenting multiple copies of Spike in an ordered fashion may be the key to inducing a potent and broad immune response. The platform also has advantages as a potentially global vaccine because it remains stable at a wide range of temperatures. This would be especially useful in settings where ultra-cold freezers are scarce. The SpFN vaccine is formulated with an adjuvant called ALFQ, one of the Army Liposome Formulation family of adjuvants developed by Army researchers at WRAIR. An adjuvant is a component of a vaccine that helps activate the immune system and improve immune responses. Preclinical and early clinical studies have demonstrated ALFQ to be safe and strongly potent as a vaccine adjuvant.



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