Study Suggests Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines May Help Prevent Other Pandemics

Researchers at the University of Duke found mRNA-based vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, induce antibodies that may help fight against coronavirus variants.


Image via GettyAngela Weiss/AFP


The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not only effective against COVID-19, but may also help prevent future pandemics.

Researchers at Duke University came to this concluding after testing mRNA-based vaccines similar to the jabs used on lab monkeys. According to their findings, which were published in Nature this week, these variety of vaccines induced “broadly neutralizing” antibodies that appeared to protect against Sars-CoV-2—the infection that causes COVID-19—as well as potential variants of coronavirus that could jump from animal to human.

The findings may offer the public a sense of relief as many experts and epidemiologists say there’s a strong chance another pandemic will occur.

In an effort to help prevent another outbreak, the team of Duke University researchers developed a pan-coronavirus vaccine that is protein-based rather than mRNA-based. The vaccine was tested on lab animals and showed promising results in fighting the original COVID-19 strain and other variants. Researchers said the vaccine also appeared to stop the virus from replicating in the lungs and nose, which could drastically reduce rates of transmission.

“We began this work last spring with the understanding that, like all viruses, mutations would occur in the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the study’s senior author Barton F. Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, said in a press release. “The mRNA vaccines were already under development, so we were looking for ways to sustain their efficacy once those variants appeared. This approach not only provided protection against SARS-CoV-2, but the antibodies induced by the vaccine also neutralized variants of concern that originated in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. And the induced antibodies reacted with quite a large panel of coronaviruses.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious diseases, expressed optimism about Duke’s pan-coronavirus vaccine during a Thursday press conference, saying the next step was to get approval for human trials.

“We always have to have a caveat when you’re dealing in a nonhuman primate,” he said, “nonetheless, this is an extremely important proof of concept that we will be aggressively pursuing as we get into the development of human trials,” Fauci said.

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