As the vaccine rollout continues here in the States, with many regions having already opened up eligibility to anyone over the age of 16, all eyes are on what the future of COVID-19 vaccination may look like.
On the global level, problems—distribution, manufacturing, and cost among them—persist, particularly in lower-income countries reliant on wealthier countries’ assistance in getting vaccines to international partners. As detailed in a New York Times report from Carl Zimmer on Monday, however, there’s a promising new candidate on the horizon by the name of NVD-HXP-S.
This vaccine, notably the first in clinical trials to use a new molecular design that could lead to more potent antibodies than the range of currently available vaccines, could be more easily produced—and at a larger scale—by using chicken eggs. This mass-production method, of course, is the same one used to make billions of flu vaccines each year.
The Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals has already announced the land of a clinical trial for NVD-HXP-S, as has the Government Pharmaceutical Organization in Thailand. Brazil’s Butantan Institute has also said it’s seeking to obtain authorization for its own batch of trials. Avi-Mex in Mexico, meanwhile, has bagged a license to determine (by way of trials) whether the vaccine could be even more effective when used in the form of an intranasal spray.
And while the potential impact of this candidate shouldn’t be expected to be immediately felt, its place in the larger process of improving vaccines for the future is could quite possibly be that of—to quote the Duke Global Health Innovation Center’s Andrea Taylor from Zimmer’s report—“a game-changer.”
As for what’s known about the current slate of available vaccines, at least here in the States, recent findings from Pfizer showed that protection from its COVID-19 vaccine lasted at least six months after the second dose.
“The high vaccine efficacy observed through up to six months following a second dose and against the variant prevalent in South Africa provides further confidence in our vaccine’s overall effectiveness,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said of the latest findings last week.
Also potentially in the future for Pfizer (and other approved vaccines like Moderna) is the possibility of needing to implement booster shots. While the CDC noted in a set of recommendations in March that the “need for and timing for” booster doses has not been established at this time, many have pointed to boosters as a likely scenario moving forward.
Recently, Bourla said in an NBC News interview that the Pfizer-BioNTech team was actively researching the possible benefits of additional doses.
“We believe that the third dose will raise the antibody response 10- to 20- fold,” Bourla said in February.
For info on current vaccine availability in your area, including how to make an appointment, peep the VaccineFinder site now.