Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research announced that they have created a vaccine against all variants of the coronavirus, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people around the world.
The scientists began their efforts nearly two years ago when the coronavirus began to be seen around the world. They received their first samples of the COVID-19 virus in March of 2020 and immediately set to work trying to create a vaccine.
But instead of trying to create a vaccine that would be effective against a single strain of the virus, scientists at Walter Reed decided to create a vaccine that would work against all variants — including those in the future.
The vaccine has successfully completed stage one of human trials. While no results have been published, the scientists say the vaccine showed “positive results.” Two more trials would need to be completed successfully before the FDA would consider approving the vaccine for general use.
Unlike existing vaccines, Walter Reed’s SpFN uses a soccer ball-shaped protein with 24 faces for its vaccine, which allows scientists to attach the spikes of multiple coronavirus strains on different faces of the protein.
“It’s very exciting to get to this point for our entire team and I think for the entire Army as well,” Modjarrad said.
The scientists had difficulty finding enough eligible patients for the trials because they needed unvaccinated and uninfected people for the test.
The next phase will test the efficacy of the vaccine against uninfected and non-inoculated people.
“We need to evaluate it in the real-world setting and try to understand how does the vaccine perform in much larger numbers of individuals who have already been vaccinated with something else initially…or already been sick,” Modjarrad said.
He said nearly all of Walter Reed’s 2,500 staff have had some role in the vaccine’s nearly-two-year development.
“We decided to take a look at the long game rather than just only focusing on the original emergence of SARS, and instead understand that viruses mutate, there will be variants that emerge, future viruses that may emerge in terms of new species. Our platform and approach will equip people to be prepared for that.”
Although a long way from getting approved, the Army vaccine holds out hope for the future. But regardless of how the vaccine works out, the pandemic “as a social phenomenon” is now over, according to Yascha Mounk.
From the first days of the pandemic, both experts and laypeople have disagreed about the extent to which we should engage in social distancing or government-imposed shutdowns. At every stage, some people wanted to take radical steps while others were more worried about the costs and drawbacks of such interventions. And that still holds true today. But the continuous fights over masks and vaccine mandates obscure the extent to which the field of battle has shifted in recent months.
Despite skyrocketing caseloads, few pundits or politicians are proposing strict measures to slow the virus’s spread. The appetite for shutdowns or other large-scale social interventions simply isn’t there. This means that we have effectively given up on “slowing the spread” or “flattening the curve.” To a much greater degree than during previous waves, we have quietly decided to throw up our hands.
Many on the right have taken that attitude all along, regardless of the supposed severity of the variant. All the way back in July 2020, Donald Trump was saying that we’re going to have to learn to live with the coronavirus. During the debate in October, Biden said “people are learning to die with it.”
"We're learning to live with it," Pres. Trump says about COVID-19. "We have no choice."
— ABC News (@ABC) October 23, 2020
Biden promised he could defeat the coronavirus. He said he could manage the pandemic better than Trump. He said a lot of silly things about the pandemic and has spent more than $5 trillion to jumpstart the economy.
The economy has now “jumpstarted” into near double-digit inflation, the virus is still rampaging across the country, and the Secret Service is saying that $100 billion in pandemic relief funds have been stolen.
How would you rate Joe Biden’s job handling the pandemic as president?