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Towards a Universal Coronavirus Vaccine


A number of U.S. and international research laboratories are developing and in some cases testing broad-spectrum or universal vaccines against sarbecoviruses, a group that includes the viruses responsible for SARS, MERS and COVID.  Research on novel vaccines is now in progress at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the University of Virginia and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.


Pamela Bjorkman at CalTech noted, "the great thing about having such vaccines is that they could handle potentially new variants as well as the next spill-over viruses that will come down the road".


Kayvon Modjarrad, is a co-inventor of a candidate multi-spectrum vaccine now in a phase-one trial involving primates.  The vaccine builds on technology used to develop influenza vaccines and uses a nanoparticle carrying copies of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.  The vaccine under development at the University of Virginia and the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, South Korea uses the fusion peptide region of the coronavirus spike protein that is highly conserved among all coronaviruses.


Successful development of a universal vaccine that is effective in protecting against a range of sarbecoviruses has the potential to deliver a broad-spectrum vaccine against multiple strains of infectious bronchitis of chickens. This ubiquitous infection is characterized by constantly evolving variants emerging in production regions with high concentrations of commercial broilers and breeders or egg production flocks.