Education,  Technology

A Universal Vaccine May Be Closer Than You Think

After the last year, we’ve seen just how progressive we can be at developing a vaccine. Never before have we made one so efficiently. But COVID has done more than just spark the development of COVID-specific vaccines, it has advanced the entire industry. So what will the vaccines of the future look like?

Vaccinology is a discipline that is positioned at the focal point of immunology, virology, microbiology, public health, economics, sociology, ethics, and even international diplomacy. So when one thinks about the future of vaccines, one has to think about each of these elements, the future of each of these elements. And one of the most exciting developments for the invention and distribution of vaccines is mRNA.

mRNA vaccines are, of course, the new kids on the block and they’ve been extraordinarily efficacious in protecting against COVID-19. And the thing that everyone says is that these vaccines were developed in such a short time, in a period of 11 months or so.

But the important point to remember is that it’s not as if we didn’t know about the mRNA vaccines prior to the emergence of COVID-19. There were teams of scientists working on this concept for years. It just so happened that when COVID-19 emerged, they were rapidly able to pivot and to use that technology, that investment that they had made over the last decade, to try and apply this to COVID-19. But if we could pool everything we know about influenza viruses or the different kinds of coronaviruses and teach the immune system to look for more than just individual antigens, then we would bypass the need for these hyper-specific vaccines.

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