The unique vaccine, produced by the Walter Reed Research Institute, began clinical trials on Tuesday, and military researchers hope it will fight variants of SARS-COV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The vaccine, called spike ferritin nano particle, or SpFN, can also help fight other coronaviruses, a group of related RNA viruses that often cause airway-related diseases in mammals.
Army researchers are tracking the threat posed by new coronaviruses even before the pandemic, according to Kaivon Mojarad, director of emerging infectious diseases at Walter Reed. This threat has been accelerating in recent years.
The Ministry of Defense had a total of over 271,000 COVID-19 cases. Of these, 3,814 people were hospitalized and 332 died. Twenty-four of those killed were employees and 11 were dependent.
The vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, have been approved under an emergency authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration and are available to the military.
The Pentagon has made vaccination forces a problem of readiness so that military operations can return to normal before the pandemic. Although there have been some problems in lobbying troops to take the voluntary vaccine early, the vaccination rate appears to be increasing in recent weeks.
“The more people get vaccinated as quickly as possible, the lower the level of transmission of the virus, which gives it less chance of continuing to mutate,” said Dr. Stephen Tsersovsky, deputy director of the Army Center for Public Health. in February.
New variants of COVID-19 have appeared in South Africa and the United Kingdom. But military medical personnel hope that current vaccines can fight these new strains. But if there are problems, the Walter Reed vaccine may be timely.
“We have designed and positioned this platform as a next-generation vaccine that paves the way for a universal vaccine to protect against not only the current virus but also future variants, stopping them in their tracks before they can cause a new pandemic,” Mojarrad said. .
Preclinical studies have shown that SpFN induces very strong antibody responses in patients, limiting the virus that causes COVID-19 infection, as well as three major variants of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 virus.
The phase 1 study is being conducted at the Walter Reed Clinical Trials Center and will include 72 healthy adult volunteers aged 18-55 years. Participants will be randomized into placebo or experimental groups.
The SpFN clinical trial was sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command.
The vaccine was developed by the Walter Reed Army Research Institute with the support of the Henry M. Jackson, Inc. Foundation for the Development of Military Medicine.