The coronavirus outbreak made household names of companies like Moderna Inc. and BioNTech SE, whose shots offered hope for ending the pandemic. Now a new wave of vaccines is on the horizon that may get the world over the finish line of inoculation.
Protecting 7.7 billion people is a herculean task. There are more than 250 vaccine candidates in the wings to take on the challenge, including 82 in human studies. In addition to sheer numbers, they offer unique benefits compared to the dozen now available.
The next generation includes shots built from the coronavirus’s genetic material and nasal sprays that defend without using a needle at all. They are stealthy, faster to make and easier to ship, offering workarounds for hurdles that limit the impact of the first inoculations to reach the market.
“It’s absolutely essential to share vaccine products with the entire world as quickly as possible,” said Richard Hatchett, chief executive officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which accelerates development of vaccines, including those against Covid-19. “The virus will have less opportunity to evolve, and it will slow down the rates of mutation that we’re seeing.”
Here’s what you need to know about the next wave of vaccines:
With most Covid vaccines requiring two shots, those that need only one will simplify the process. This approach is known as viral vector technology. It uses an unrelated virus, one that’s been modified so it doesn’t cause infection, to insert the directions for making the coronavirus’ spike protein into healthy cells. Those cells then crank out large amounts of the spike protein, triggering an immune response. Of the dozen candidates in human studies, most involve one injection.
- With one shot, they’re faster and stronger—though boosters may be needed
- May be easier to update for new strains, since different genetic sequences can be delivered via the same viral vector
- Can be kept refrigerated for up to two years.
- People can be immune to the vector, which is often an adenovirus – a frequent cause of the common cold
- All that spike protein production can trigger an immune response that can result in stronger side effects…
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