Army vaccine researchers are preparing for the possibility of new COVID-19 strains

Actualizado: 21 jun 2020

Army medical experts involved in testing COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by outside laboratories are also working to develop their own vaccine, one that can give them the building blocks to combat future strains of the virus if mutations arise.

The first few vaccines being “queued up” for what the White House recently dubbed “Operation Warp Speed” include those by the companies Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, Army researchers involved in the project said during a telephone call with reporters Tuesday.

Moderna’s candidate is “very, very likely to be the first major vaccine to be tested in large scale,” said Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

But Army researchers are developing another vaccine, added Kayvon Modjarrad, the institute’s director of emerging infectious diseases. Their vaccine is being designed with a “long-term approach” to combating new strains of the novel coronavirus.

“There’s no evidence currently that there are new strains,” Modjarrad cautioned. But the vaccine his team is developing would help researchers more quickly fight any mutated strains should they arise.

“We have been vaccinating hundreds and hundreds of mice with different versions of our vaccine and we will be making the decision as to which one is the best one to take forward for manufacturing next week," Modjarrad said. "And then, ultimately, to a first-in-human clinical trial in the late summer.”

Human data obtained from those trials will inform the advancement of the other vaccines being pursued by Operation Warp Speed, Modjarrad added.

“Even though it will not be one of those first four vaccines that initially go into large scale testing, we believe that ... with coronavirus in general and not just this particular one, we may be onto something very good," Michael said.

Source: (Rempfer, s.f.)


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