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WRAIR’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB) is leading efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with COVID-19. WRAIR initially developed more than two dozen prototypes, administered to nearly one thousand mice, to study the most promising binding and neutralizing antibody response in preclinical studies.

In June, researchers identified the most promising vaccine prototype, along with two backups, for future testing in human clinical trials later this year.  WRAIR’s vaccine, called the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) is one of many currently in development. Researchers hope WRAIR’s ferritin vaccine platform could also pave the way for a universal vaccine to protect against not only the current virus, but also other currently known coronaviruses and unknown species that could arise in the future. 

EIDB scientists are also working closely with other institutions through Operation Warp Speed to advance other vaccine candidates. 

“Based upon WRAIR’s long experience developing vaccines for other viruses and recent work on coronaviruses, we’ve been able to move quickly in advancing a vaccine candidate,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, Director of EIDB. Modjarrad recently published the results of the first-in-human trial of a Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) vaccine candidate. MERS, another coronavirus in the same family as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is a deployment and global health concern due to its high fatality rate of nearly 40%. 

Read more about how WRAIR is pivoting to combat COVID-19 and how WRAIR researchers and staff are supporting COVID efforts: