Amid the torrent of bad news about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, there was a surprising bit of good news about a promising new vaccine on Tuesday.
The U.S. Army has been spent all of 2021 trying to create a vaccine for the coronavirus that works differently from the mRNA shots developed by Pfizer and Moderna. It’s called the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) coronavirus vaccine, and what’s unique about it is that it would protect against future variants of coronavirus. The vaccine was developed by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), specifically its Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch.
The Army announced in a September 16 press statement, citing preclinical study results, that the SpFN vaccine “not only elicits a potent immune response but may also provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern as well as other coronaviruses.”
“The accelerating emergence of human coronaviruses throughout the past two decades and the rise of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including most recently Omicron, underscore the continued need for next-generation preemptive vaccines that confer broad protection against coronavirus diseases,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, the director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at WRAIR, said in an Army press statement. “Our strategy has been to develop a ‘pan-coronavirus’ vaccine technology that could potentially offer safe, effective and durable protection against multiple coronavirus strains and species.”
Defense One reported that the Walter Reed scientists expect to announce, “within weeks,” that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants.
The Army has only wrapped up Phase 1 of human trials. Defense One noted that it had “positive results that are undergoing final review.” The vaccine has been in development for nearly two years, according to Defense One. It won’t be available to the general public anytime and might not even pan out. Also, the Army has not gone to the FDA for approval for the vaccine.
Last week, the Army noted that 468,459 active soldiers—a rate of 96 percent—had been vaccinated against the coronavirus since the Army put a mandate in place. Also, the Army has begun banning soldiers who refuse to take the vaccine from reenlistment, promotions, and other “favorable personnel actions,” with discharge possible for those who continue to refuse vaccination, per CNN.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.