What will tomorrow’s Covid-19 vaccines be like? – BBC News

One company which is specifically focusing on getting Covid-19 vaccines to low-income nations is Lund-based biotech Ziccum which has developed a technology to air-dry existing vaccines and convert them into powder forms which do not need to be stored or transported at cold temperatures. Ziccum are currently collaborating with Janssen whose first generation Covid-19 vaccine was approved in February 2021 to study whether it will be possible to create dry powder forms of one of Janssen's vaccine platforms. In the near future, this may be utilised to try and improve the vaccine situation across the African continent. Ziccum's CEO Gran Conradson told the BBC that talks are underway about using their technology in Rwanda, where less than 20% of the population are fully vaccinated.

"We have been invited to Rwanda to see what we can do," says Conradson. "There's been a lot of initiatives in Africa at the moment. We've had so many contacts from the African CDC, African Development Bank, the African vaccine manufacturers, there's a whole bunch of initiatives."

Even if some of the second generation vaccines never make it to market for Covid-19, the vast investments in research and accelerating manufacturing processes, may yet bring major health benefits in the realms of other diseases. Vaxart are also looking to create vaccine-based pills for flu and norovirus, while CureVac and GSK are aiming to produce a jab which vaccinates against coronaviruses and influenza at the same time.

California-based biotech Gritstone have recently launched a Phase I clinical trial in Manchester, using a method known as self-amplifying RNA (saRNA), a newer form of the mRNA technology. Initially designed for use against cancer, saRNA produces copies of itself once inside the body's cells, meaning that you can induce the same response as an mRNA vaccine, but with a dose that is 50 or 100 times smaller, making the vaccine cheaper and easier to make.

Andrew Allen, president, chief executive and co-founder of Gritstone, says that the vaccine's technology, which aims to stimulate more durable, long lasting T cell responses against areas of Covid-19 which are conserved between coronaviruses, and so found in all viruses in this family, could also be utilised to help develop universal vaccines against other viruses such as the flu. It could even help accelerate its existing work on cancer vaccines, which uses biopsies to try and predict different targets for the immune system to attack, as the tumour evolves.

But one of the biggest legacies of this new wealth of vaccine research could be in making the world far more prepared for future coronavirus outbreaks, something many scientists believe is inevitable based on trends over the past two decades.

"We've had three coronavirus outbreaks in the last 20 years," says Allen. "We had Sars in 2002 Mers in 2012, and then Covid-19. I think we can all agree that there will be another coronavirus outbreak, and we need to be ready for it. We need to be better prepared than we were last time."


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What will tomorrow's Covid-19 vaccines be like? - BBC News

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