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Looking Forward to What 2022 Will Mean for Vaccine History and Science... And the Pandemic

By 

René F. Najera, DrPH

January 2, 2022

A few days ago, the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development announced the approval of its COVID-19 vaccine in India. The vaccine, , is the result of work started when the SARS epidemic struck in the early 2000s. India approved the vaccine for people 18 and older, and the vaccine technology is protein subunit technology like that used in the currently approved hepatitis B vaccines in the United States. Since Texas Children's Hospital has gifted the vaccine technology to the world, it has been offered without patent restrictions to fill the gap that current vaccines cannot fill because of technological and patent limitations.

If successful, can be produced each month. The aim is to vaccinate enough people around the world so that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is lessened in terms of infections, severe disease and hospitalizations. One additional aim of the vaccination effort is to prevent variants, which appear in under-vaccinated populations, as the novel coronavirus can multiply freely and produce variants.

A fourth COVID-19 vaccine for the United States?

NVX-CoV2373, the vaccine created by Maryland-based manufacturer Novavax, . The company has now submitted the paperwork to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the United States. The vaccine works by adhering viral proteins to an adjuvant (a chemical used to improve immune response). , and then the proteins are purified so that only the coronavirus spike protein remains in a solution and ready to be added to the adjuvant.

For more information on where other vaccines around the world are in terms of their development or testing, . Of note in that tracker are the ten vaccines (as of January 2, 2022) whose development and production have been abandoned. Some have failed at the clinical trial stage, while others simply ran out of funding.

An Omicron variant booster?

As the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus continues to spread exponentially, evidence shows that people who have received at least one booster of the COVID-19 vaccine face . Nevertheless, the sheer number of people infected is translating to overburdened emergency services, hospitals and urgent care centers. In Maryland, for example, .

In response to the Omicron wave, both manufacturers of the mRNA vaccines have stated they can -- and probably will -- shift their formulation to the Omicron strain's mRNA code for the spike protein. . Moderna did not give an expected date for the vaccine to be ready, . Currently, there is no expected timetable for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

An endemic disease and no longer a pandemic?

One of the hopes of the public and experts is that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 becomes endemic, . However, that moment will not arrive so long as new variants arise and cause more waves, like Omicron is doing right now. And that will continue to happen as long as a substantial proportion of the world population is not vaccinated or otherwise immune.

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