Time for an Operation Warp Speed to Develop Pan-Coronavirus Vaccines

COVID-19 is on the rise again in Europe. The spread of the BA.2 omicron variant, which appears to have a 30 percent higher infectious rate than its highly contagious parent, has led to an increase in cases. As usual, the Food and Drug Administration is way behind the course of the coronavirus outbreak. The agency decided to be patient and not to begin considering next month emergency authorizations for booster doses of Moderna or BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations. The spread of the BA.2 variant of the Omicron variant could lead to a new outbreak of infections. crestingThe United States.

We’ll take a brief look at FDA dawdling. Israel approved COVID-19 booster shots in July 2020, based on initial positive results. These data were taken into account by the Biden administration, who pushed for approval of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots mid-August. According to reports, this plan caused “anger” among FDA bureaucrats. PoliticoAccording to a report, the agency was worried that political pressures would once more override its expertise. Even though the disease’s delta variants were rising, boosters for the elderly Americans were approved by the agency in late September. It took until late November for the FDA’s experts to authorize boosters for all adult Americans just as the omicron variant tsunami was taking off.

Health authorities are now giving booster shots for vaccines that were created back in 2020. This was when the first coronavirus variant prevailed. The good news is that when used as boosters those vaccines are still effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths from subsequent variants including the omicron variants. However, as the coronavirus virus evolves the vaccines are becoming less effective at preventing mild to moderate infections. Israel started offering an additional COVID-19 booster shot for its elderly citizens in 2022, based upon preliminary efficacy data.

While the omicron variant is significantly more contagious than earlier variants and more easily spreads to both people previously infected with earlier variants and vaccinated people, it seems to have evolved such that it causes less severe illness. The risks of hospitalization and death from omicron variant infections are be lower than those stemming from earlier variants, but unvaccinated folks are still considerably more vulnerable to the worse outcomes of omicron COVID-19 infections. However, there is no guarantee that future COVID-19 variants will continue to become milder over time. As it spreads between humans and other animals, the virus is open to further development.

Due to the speed at which COVID-19 viruses spread and mutates, it is difficult for a strategy that develops variant-specific vaccines to prevent future outbreaks. Pfizer for instance announced on January 25th, 2022 that it will launch a clinical trial to develop a vaccine specifically targeting the omicron strain. It was one week after Omicron cases peaked in the United States.

In May 2020, researchers from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – NIAID published an op ed. NatureShe argued that “the right time to begin” is to create universal coronavirus vaccines. The NIAID decided that it was too late to develop universal coronavirus vaccines 15 months after the award of $36,000,000 to three institutions to conduct research on pan-coronavirus vaccines.

Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to accelerate the deployment and development of candidate pan-coronavirus vaccinations could be a better incentive for pharmaceutical companies. A recent opinion piece in The New York Times Los Angeles Times, two immunologists point out that the global cost of the COVID-19 pandemic is an estimated $16 trillion, compared to the cost of developing a typical vaccine at $1 billion. The cost of developing a vaccine at $10 billion is small compared to what the pandemic will cost.

Among the promising pan-coronavirus candidate vaccines are the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s spike ferritin nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine; Osivax’s nucleocapsid vaccine targeting a protein widely prevalent among coronaviruses that is unlikely to mutate; and Inovio’s DNA vaccine encoding variant sequences of the spike proteins the virus uses to invade cells.

It is past time for pan-coronavirus vaccinations to be developed and deployed quickly.