As you may know, the current health crisis is not the first coronavirus-related pandemic. In the last twenty years alone, there have been three: SARS-CoV-1, from 2002 to 2004, causing just under a thousand deaths, then MERS-CoV from 2012, which caused the death of just over 800 people. And finally, SARS-CoV-2, which doesn't really need any introductions anymore. Knowing this, it is likely that other such pandemics could emerge. So why not prepare for them now?
A vaccine capable of targeting all coronaviruses and variants
This is the question that a team of researchers from the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute in North Carolina (USA) is trying to answer. These scientists have developed a vaccine that is effective against all forms of coronavirus. What is it called? The pan-coronavirus vaccine.
In simple terms, it uses a nanoparticle to send out antibodies that neutralise the coronavirus, using the part of the virus that allows it to attach to cell receptors. And the results are quite impressive.
100% effectiveness in the first tests
In their study published in the renowned scientific journal Nature, the researchers explain that they have found a specific location on the side of the receptor binding domain, which is found in all coronaviruses, but also in all variants of SARS-CoV-2. This would mean that the vaccine targets an element inherent to the whole family of this coronavirus, rather than any specific strain.
In trials conducted on monkeys, the nanoparticle vaccine was 100% effective against SARS-CoV-2, targeting the area common to all coronaviruses. This raises the possibility of a true pan-coronavirus vaccine. A major weapon for putting an end to the health crisis, but also for reacting quickly to future pandemics, as Barton F. Haynes, the study's lead author and director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, explains:
There have been three coronavirus outbreaks in the last 20 years, so there is a need to develop effective vaccines that can target these pathogens before the next pandemic (...) This work represents a platform that could prevent, rapidly temper or even end a pandemic.