RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said a vaccine targeting multiple types of coronavirus is our best shot at controlling this pandemic and preventing future ones.
Researchers at Duke are working on just that and they’ve received some promising results.
Inside labs at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, researchers are looking toward the future – a way out of this pandemic and others that could follow
Dr. Barton Haynes is the director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.
“What we really need to control this pandemic is a series of vaccines that can be available all around the world that will block any of the variants coming out,” he said.
Haynes and his team have developed a pan-coronavirus vaccine that protects against the original virus that causes COVID, as well as the beta and delta variants, in animal studies and shows good results against omicron in test tube studies.
He said it also works against related viruses like the one that caused the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003.
“The importance of what we have done is to be able to have a vaccine that induces more antibodies that cross-react with other virus strains,” he explained, adding that this is due, in part, to the part of the virus the vaccine targets.
He described that as, “The little piece that hooks onto our cells that allows the virus to infect our cells.”
In tests, he said the vaccine produces high levels of antibodies, which could make a difference as the virus continues to evolve.
While he says COVID could evolve to become as mild as a cold, scientists are preparing for whatever comes next.
“A virus variant could emerge that is as transmissible is omicron but as deadly as delta,” Haynes noted. ” That’s what we are working on right now to be ready, if and when, that occurs.”
Researchers hope to have this vaccine in human trials later this year, but in the meantime, he said the best way to stay out of the hospital is by getting your vaccines and your boosters.
They are also working on other vaccines that could work against even more types of coronavirus, with the goal of preventing future pandemics.
“What we’ve learned is we need to keep going now for these future vaccines and have vaccines ready to go when the next coronavirus infection does come into humans,” he said. “We know that’s going to happen, so we’re going to be prepared for the next time it happens.”