COVID-19Drugs & MedicationsInfectious DiseasesPreventive Medicine


I find it discouraging that more and more “fully-vaccinated” people are getting sick and testing positive for COVID-19. That wasn’t supposed to happen. We were led to believe, or maybe we incorrectly assumed, that once we got vaccinated, we were protected and had nothing to worry about. At least that’s the way it’s been with other vaccines like smallpox and polio. Those diseases have been all but eradicated. The COVID-19 vaccine situation is different, however. Wouldn’t it be encouraging if we learned these vaccines really worked, conveyed immunity to more than just one virus, and allowed our lives to get back to normal?

In August 20, 2020, the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, reported there were “30 potential vaccines” in clinical trials and another 139 were in preclinical development. We know, of course, that at the end of 2020, the American public was introduced to three vaccines—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson products—which have been administered to millions of people.

Unfortunately, just when you think vaccines might bring an end to the pandemic, cases still occur. Mutant strains of COVID-19 appear that cause a new surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. First it was the Delta variant, and now we’re dealing with Omicron. The three vaccines currently in use are obviously not perfect. They appear to be ineffective against variant strains and aren’t 100% effective against standard disease. What we need is a vaccine that’s effective against “the virus,” the current variants, and other respiratory viruses.

According to Reuters Health Information, there is hope! A new type of vaccine is being developed by the U.S. Army, and so far, it seems to fit the bill. Instead of an mRNA or protein antigen based vaccine, the new vaccine uses a “nanoparticle” that generates a strong immune response to a variety of viruses. When “paired with powerful adjuvant systems” (chemicals that increase the immune response), the nanoparticle vaccine has the ability to protect against as many as 24 new variants. The mechanism of action of the vaccine is beyond my understanding but is important because it is new technology that differs significantly from older products, and seems to be more broadly effective.

Of course, it’s early in this vaccine’s development, but it shows promise against “standard” coronaviruses, new strains of COVID-19, and even “other ubiquitous common-cold coronaviruses.” Maybe, now, if this nanoparticle technology is as potent as they predict, we will have a vaccine that produces the immunologic effect we so desperately need. 


Carmen JM, et al. SARS-CoV-2 ferritin nanoparticle vaccine induces robust innate immune activity driving polyfunctional spike-specific T-cell responses. Nature Partner Journals 2021(6):151.

Joyce MG, et al. SARS-CoC-2 ferritin nanoparticle vaccines elicit broad SARS coronavirus immunogenicity. Cell Rep 2021 Dec 21;37(12):110143

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