Army to announce vaccine that protects against an array of COVID-19 variants


Correction: This title and story has been corrected to reflect that the COVID-19 vaccine that the military is developing has not been tested against omicron.

The U.S. military is expected to announce that it has developed a vaccine that protects against an array of COVID-19 variants, Defense One reports.

The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) has been developing an advanced ferritin nanoparticle (SpFN) since early 2020 and began the first human trials of the vaccine in early April.

Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the infectious diseases branch of WRAIR, told Defense One that the first trials were completed this month and gave positive results which are currently under review.

“It’s very exciting to get to this point for our whole team and I think for the whole army as well,” Modjarrad told the outlet.

The news of the vaccine comes as the omicron variant accounts for about three-quarters of COVID-19 infections in the United States, after being first identified in South Africa last month.

Experts continue to stress that vaccination and booster vaccination are the best form of protection against the new variant. Pfizer and Moderna have both said booster doses of their COVID-19 vaccines dramatically increase antibody levels against the variant.

Defense One initially reported that the vaccine was effective against all variants, including omicron. But WRAIR later issued a statement specifying that the vaccine had not been tested on the most recent variant.

“Some recent reports on the development of COVID-19 vaccines from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have led to inaccurate representations which require clarification,” the statement said. “The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle platform is designed to protect against a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants and original SARS variants, but has not been tested on the Omicron variant.”

WRAIR added that its researchers are analyzing the results of its human trials at an early stage and that the final results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The SpFN vaccine uses a 24-sided protein that allows scientists to attach the tips of multiple strains of coronavirus to different faces, according to Defense One.

Modjarrad told the outlet that the rapid spread of the omicron and delta variants, along with increasing vaccination rates, made the first trials longer than expected. These trials required subjects who had neither been vaccinated nor previously infected with COVID-19.

In the future, WRAIR is to test how the vaccine interacts with people who have already been vaccinated or who have already been sick.

“We have to evaluate it in the real world and try to understand how the vaccine works in a much larger number of people who have already been vaccinated with something else to begin with… or who have already been sick,” said he declared.

Updated at 12:39


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