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US Army optimistic its COVID vaccine can protect against current, future variants

U.S. Army Spc. Eyza Carrasco, left, with 2nd Cavalry Regiment, administers a COVID-19...
U.S. Army Spc. Eyza Carrasco, left, with 2nd Cavalry Regiment, administers a COVID-19 vaccination at the 7th Army Training Command's (7ATC) Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany, May 3, 2021.(U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 2:12 PM CST
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SILVER SPRING, Md. (Gray News) - The U.S. Army announced that its COVID-19 vaccine can provide a potent immune response and broad protection against variants of concern.

Preclinical study results published in December state the Army’s Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) COVID-19 vaccine developed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) protected non-human primates against diseases caused by the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and produces antibody responses against major variants.

The vaccine differs from other options currently available, as it is designed to be a pan-coronavirus shot, offering protection against future strains.

The results also stated the vaccine offered protection against the SARS-CoV-1 virus that emerged in 2002.

“The threat from COVID-19 continues as it evolves, and eventually there will be other emerging disease threats,” Dr. Nelson Michael, Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at WRAIR, said. “Our investment in developing a next generation vaccine is an important step towards getting ahead of COVID-19 and future disease threats.”

A vial of spike ferritin nanoparticle (SpFN), WRAIR’s COVID-19 vaccine. Built on a ferritin...
A vial of spike ferritin nanoparticle (SpFN), WRAIR’s COVID-19 vaccine. Built on a ferritin platform, the vaccine offers a flexible approach to targeting multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 and potentially other coronaviruses as well.(U.S. Army photo by Mike Walters)

The Army began Phase 1 human trials on the vaccine in April, and early analyses are expected to conclude this month. Researchers will compare the results of this vaccine to the others authorized by the FDA for emergency use.

Defense One reported that researchers are expected to announce within weeks the vaccine also offers protection against the omicron variant, which has become the dominant version in the U.S.

“This vaccine stands out in the COVID-19 vaccine landscape,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at WRAIR, said. “The repetitive and ordered display of the coronavirus spike protein on a multi-faced nanoparticle may stimulate immunity in such a way as to translate into significantly broader protection.”

Modjarrad told Defense One researchers will need to learn how its vaccine performs on people who have already been sick with the virus or those already vaccinated.

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