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The Making of Medicine

New Vaccine Could Protect Against Many Coronaviruses

Our Steven L. Zeichner, MD, PhD, and Virginia Tech's Xiang-Jin Meng, MD, PhD, have developed a promising new coronavirus vaccine that they hope will offer broad protection against existing and future strains of COVID-19 -- and against other coronaviruses as well. And it may only cost about $1 a dose to boot.

The vaccine offers several advantages that could overcome major obstacles to global vaccination efforts, the scientists say. It would be easy to store and transport, even in remote corners of the globe, and could be manufactured in great bulk using existing vaccine factories.

The vaccine was created using a rapid vaccine-development platform that Dr. Zeichner invented. “Our new platform offers a new route to rapidly produce vaccines at very low cost that can be manufactured in existing facilities around the world, which should be particularly helpful for pandemic response,” he said.

Much more work needs to be done before the vaccine could become available for human use, but early testing of the vaccine in pigs has produced encouraging results. The vaccine prevented the pigs from being becoming ill with a pig model coronavirus, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV)

That's a promising sign for the success of both the vaccine and Dr. Zeichner's vaccine-development platform.

Dr. Zeichner added that he was encouraged that a collaboration between UVA and Virginia Tech, schools with a well-known sports rivalry, has produced such promising results. “If UVA and Virginia Tech scientists can work together to try to do something positive to address the pandemic, then maybe there is some hope for collaboration and cooperation in the country at large.”

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