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Against Them All

To stave off future coronavirus-driven epidemics or pandemics, researchers are working on developing pan-coronavirus vaccines, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Researchers are first, the Journal notes, focusing on developing a vaccine against sarbecoviruses, a subset of coronaviruses that includes SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, and then planning to branch out to include betacoronaviruses, which include the virus that causes MERS as well as others that cause the common cold. "You have to prove that you can get to the moon before you try to go to Mars," Kayvon Modjarrad, a US Army researcher, tells the Journal.

Modjarrad and his colleagues, for instance, recently tested an experimental vaccine that includes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein attached to a ferritin-based nanoparticle, the Journal reports, noting that blood from inoculated macaques appeared to respond to all the main SARS-CoV-2 variants and that they are now examining data from a human study. At the same time, it adds that researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are developing an mRNA-based vaccine that includes bits of RNA encoding spike proteins from SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and two bat viruses, which protected mice from those viruses.