Is a universal coronavirus vaccine on the horizon?
Scientists are racing to develop a single vaccine that protects against many SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as emerging coronaviruses with the potential to trigger a new pandemic.
Every time a new variant comes along, COVID-19 vaccine and drug makers reassess their “recipes” to see if they work against an evolving virus—like Omicron, which has spread quickly around the globe in little more than a month.
Since the start of the pandemic in December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has mutated multiple times, giving rise to different variants. Because most vaccines were designed to recognize the original SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, or at least parts of it, more mutated variants like Omicron are better at escaping protection offered by the vaccines, although they still prevent severe disease.
Last month, vaccine makers talked about tweaking the formula to have an Omicron-specific vaccine handy, if needed. “But Omicron won’t