We are rapidly approaching the fourth pandemic winter, and while waves, variants, and sub-variants of the coronavirus continue to follow each other, the scenario has changed significantly. Thanks to mass vaccination, there are not so many hospitalizations and deaths.
But we must admit that the panorama is not as rosy as we drew it when vaccination began. Let’s start with the fact that the effect of vaccinations weakens over time. In addition, they do not completely prevent transmission (especially in new variants), although they reduce it. And the virus continues to roam freely and mutate to bypass our immunity.
It wouldn’t exactly be the end of a Disney movie, forever taking action when things go wrong and giving doses and more doses of memory. That’s why the stakes are now on next-generation vaccines that will address the root of the problem.
Since the end of 2020, two types of covid vaccines have been introduced: messenger RNA (Moderna and Pfizer) and adenovirus (AstraZeneca and Janssen).
They were the first authorized EMAs, but not the only ones. In December 2021, Novavax’s vaccine, which is based on the spike protein of the coronavirus, was approved. Therefore, it is no longer genetic material or adenovirus that is grafted, but a protein, as in a flu vaccine. This is an important difference for unvaccinated people who do not trust vaccines with genetic information.
Also, for those who like more traditional vaccines, the vaccine has been approved by the EMA since June of this year. Valneva (Austria GMbH) formed by an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus unable to cause disease. This type includes vaccines against rabies, cholera and whooping cough. Because it has not been tested on the elderly or children in clinical trials, the EMA has recommended it for people aged 18 to 50.
More than 250 vaccine prototypes are currently under development. This is far from a waste of time and money: it will contribute to the development of other vaccines for diseases that we do not yet have (HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, etc.).
Two vaccines are pending approval from the EMA for sale and distribution: Skykovion D vidprevtin, both are based on proteins. In addition, the European Agency has begun an ongoing review of clinical trial data as a preliminary step towards the authorization of three other vaccines that will expand the arsenal of available vaccines.
Other vaccines such as the Russian one Sputnik-V (analogous to the Janssen vaccine), VeroCell (also from an inactivated virus, as already authorized by Valneva) and Spanish HYPRA (protein-based) not yet licensed. All of these will be used as booster doses for people who have already been vaccinated once antibody levels are seen to decrease after a few months.
These three vaccines should provide sufficient evidence of safety for commercial use, as well as efficacy at least similar to those currently available. Let’s not forget that in October 2021, the German pharmaceutical company CureVac withdrew its prototype matrix RNA vaccine (CVnCoV) from evaluation due to its efficacy of less than 50%.
The dedication and efforts to continue to develop more effective vaccines will serve to combat not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but other future pandemics as well. Two promising strategies are currently being developed: mucosal vaccines and pancoronaviruses.
One possible way to eradicate the Covid-19 pandemic would be to completely prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The first route for SARS-CoV-2 to enter and multiply is through the tissues that line the mouth and nose, called mucosa. Being in such an unprotected place, these tissues contain a very complex immune defense system. In fact, if the virus could not reproduce on our mucous membranes, we would not pass it on to other people and it would disappear. This is the goal of mucosal vaccination strategies, or “sterilizers”.
The introduction of the drug directly into the mucous membranes requires more control, so these vaccines develop more slowly than others. In a previous article, we explained how nasal vaccines (a type of mucosal vaccine) work.
Both in mucosal vaccines in general and in nasal vaccines in particular, important and promising advances have been made in recent months.
Mucosal vaccines can be given in several ways: as a nasal spray or drops, by inhalation through the mouth with a nebulizer (similar to asthma treatment), or as tablets or capsules (which can be sucked or administered sublingually, like some mite and pollen vaccines). ).
There are about 20 vaccines of these types, 4 of which have already been approved individually in countries, although only one has passed phase III clinical trials.
The first mucosal vaccine approved in the country was Razi Cove Parisproduced by Iran, which consists of two injection doses and a third intranasal and is in phase III clinical trials, although it has been authorized in Iran since October 2021. The next one, in April of this year, was the Russian bow satellitebased on the same adenoviral vector as injectable.
then followed Covidencia Airan inhalation drug developed in China that was compared in phase IV trials with third injection doses and provides better protection against infection.
fourth INKOVACan intranasal drug developed by India in cooperation with the US, and the US company Ocugen is already licensed to produce it in the US, Europe and Japan after it is approved by the relevant agencies.
Three more vaccines could join those four this year, two of which are already in phase III clinical trials and one is in phase II. In addition, 2 more mucosal vaccines are in phase II and 11 are in phase I, the most advanced being developed in the United States.
These types of vaccines have been slower to start, but many are already very close to being assessed by regulators. And while many of the results have yet to be published, it seems that they will live up to expectations, working against omicrons and significantly reducing transmission. Just what we need now, when omicron subtypes are driving us crazy.
A panvaccine is a vaccine that can not only demonstrate its effectiveness against various variants of SARS-CoV2, but also fight against several variants of other coronaviruses.
This class of vaccines will function as a master key capable of generating antibodies that recognize and neutralize the four major strains of coronaviruses and prevent the virus from entering our cells and replicating.
Work is underway to develop pan-vaccines that target different subgenera, such as the sarbecovirus subgenus (which includes all viruses similar to SARS), betacoronaviruses (similar to MERS), and some seasonal cold-causing coronaviruses.
So, we see that while there are periods of optimism and pessimism on the street, when waves of the virus attack us, nothing has stopped in the laboratories. They work tirelessly to bring us closer to the final Disney movie we all want.
Matilda Canelles Lopez, Research Fellow. Scientific technology and society, Institute of Philosophy (IFS-CSIC); Maria Mercedes Jimenez Sarmiento, CSIC Research Fellow. Systemic biochemistry of bacterial division. scientific communicator, Margarita Salas Biological Research Center (CIB – CSIC) and Nuria Eugenia Campillo, Senior Research Fellow. medical chemistry, Margarita Salas Biological Research Center (CIB – CSIC)
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.
I’m Liza Grey, an experienced news writer and author at the Buna Times. I specialize in writing about economic issues, with a focus on uncovering stories that have a positive impact on society. With over seven years of experience in the news industry, I am highly knowledgeable about current events and the ways in which they affect our daily lives.