For the first time, a team of scientists from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has shown that other coronavirus shots and prior coronavirus infection can offer a wide range of immunity against other similar types of coronaviruses. This is the first study that has demonstrated cross-protective immunity by shots. The findings of the study show possibility of a universal vaccine that can be effective against all types of coronaviruses. A universal vaccine might help avert other pandemics in the future as well. The lead author of the study, Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster has claimed that the findings of the study show that if someone is exposed to one type of coronavirus, he or she might have cross-immunity against other coronaviruses as well. The lead author is an associate lecturer of microbiology and immunology from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The authors of the study have said that they have seen that plasma extracted from people who have been vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been able to create antibodies that have been cross-reactive against the SARS-CoV-1 and the common cold coronavirus known as OC43. The findings of the new study have shown that mice inoculated with a SARS-CoV-1 shot made in 2004 have been able to produce immune responses, which have prevented intranasal exposure by the SARS-CoV-2 in the animals. Apart from this, experts have found that immunity derived from prior coronavirus illness as well can prevent ensuing infections with other coronaviruses.
The findings of the study have shown that mice that have been immunized with COVID19 shots and later have been exposed to the common cold virus OC43 that is different from the SARS strains have been partly immune to the common cold. However, the protection has not been that robust. Experts have said that the SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses are genetically similar while the OC43 virus or common cold virus is more different from SARS strains. The lead author of the study has said that as long as the coronavirus is more than 70 percent similar, the shot will prevent it. If these animals are exposed to a very unlike family of coronaviruses, the vaccines might not be able to offer a long-lasting defense. The team of scientists has said that considering how diverse each family of coronavirus is, a universal vaccine for all coronavirus might be possible in the distant future. However, there might be a way forward for making a shot for each family of coronaviruses such as Sarbecoronavirus, Embecoronavirus, and Merbecoronavirus. On the other hand, the findings of the new will help scientists reevaluate their theory of a universal coronavirus shot. The lead author of the new report has said that although a universal shot for coronavirus might not come in near future, experts might be able to come up with a generic shot for each family of such viruses. A universal shot for Sarbecoronavirus might be able to protect people from viruses such as SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2, and other SARS-related pathogens. A universal shot for Embecoronavirus might be able to save people from HKU1 and HCoV-OC43 that lead to the common cold.
The lead author of the study has joined hands with a medical expert, Dr. Igor Koralnik to test the immune reaction among humans who have been given COVID19 shots. Both experts as well have looked at the immune reactions in people who have been admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after testing positive for COVID19 disease. Dr. Igor Koralnik is the head of the neuro-infectious disease and global neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Lavanya Visvabharathy as well has been a part of the new study. She is a postdoctoral research scholar in neurological manifestations of COVID19 at Feinberg. The authors of the study have said that they have seen that these people have been able to produce antibodies that can fight against viruses such as HCoV-OC43 in a better way. Now the team is trying to find how long the cross-protection is going to last. The lead author of the study has been studying the HIV vaccine for 10 years before the COVID19 pandemic has hit the region. He has been studying how HIV multiplies. It has led him to think about cross-reactivity within coronavirus shots. Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster has said that we do not have an HIV shot, as it is not possible to make cross-reactive antibodies. However, scientists can develop cross-reactive antibodies for coronaviruses for sure. Experts have said that the issue of variability among such viruses can be dealt with easily. The new study has been backed and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Tanushree Dangi and Dr. Nicole Palacio have worked as co-authors of the study. The results of the new study have been released in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The authors of the study have said that shots that have been made for the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been proved to be quite effective in all age groups. On the other hand, some of the shots have not been potent enough against other strains of the virus. As per the experts, the SARS-CoV-2 keeps mutating as it spreads further. Mutation of the virus shoots up the possibility of new strains. Many studies have found that the delta strain has the ability to dodge defense derived from shots. Experts have said that a universal shot might solve this issue once for all. However, the authors of the new study have said that there is a need for further studies to verify the findings. Other experts have said that the study has paved the way for a better approach for drugmakers.