There is no doubt that there is a risk that SARS-CoV-2 will continue to mutate, which would mean that existing vaccines may not be effective. Producing a universal vaccine against developing viruses that can cause COVID-19 is, therefore, an absolute necessity. Developing the instruments necessary to prevent future pandemics — which are inevitable — should be considered at the global level as a priority to safeguard world health. As stated in Science (read the full article HERE) “More virulent and deadly coronaviruses are waiting in the wings. […] We can invest now or pay substantially more later”.
The authors also affirm the feasibility of the universal vaccine in a short term “[…] the recent convergence of technological advances in biomedical, computing, and engineering sciences has ushered in a new era in antigen and vaccine discovery. High-performance supercomputing and machine learning, coupled with structural modeling, have the potential to greatly accelerate the identification of common antigenic targets shared across coronaviruses. Databases of genetic sequences of animal isolates of coronaviruses can be used to model the evolutionary emergence of the viruses. Ongoing efforts to decode the principles of immunity in aging populations can enhance the effectiveness of vaccines for those most vulnerable. Collectively, studies now suggest that developing a universal coronavirus vaccine is scientifically feasible.”
The article ends with an evaluation of the difficulties and cost of the universal vaccine, “None of that can happen until all stakeholders, across governments, industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations, recognize this as a global public health priority. With COVID-19, much of the groundwork has been laid. To wait until after this crisis passes could prove to be a missed opportunity. It is estimated that the current pandemic will end up costing between US$ 8 and 16 trillion globally, ∼500 times more than would be required for preventing the next pandemic.” We hope that governments and international institutions do not show the lack of vision of the future that marked the first stage of the current pandemic.