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What is the story behind the military vaccine?

Amid the torrent of bad news regarding the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, there was surprising good news on Tuesday regarding a promising new vaccine.

The U.S. military has spent the whole of 2021 trying to create a coronavirus vaccine that works differently from the mRNA injections developed by Pfizer and Moderna. It’s called the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) coronavirus vaccine, and what’s unique is that it is believed to protect against future variants of the coronavirus. The vaccine was developed by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), specifically its Emerging Infectious Diseases branch.

The army announced in a September 16 press release, citing the results of a preclinical study, that the SpFN vaccine “not only elicits a potent immune response, but may also provide broad protection against the worrisome variants of SARS-CoV-2 as well as other coronaviruses.”

“The accelerated emergence of human coronaviruses over the past two decades and the increase in SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the most recently Omicron, underscore the continued need for next-generation preventive vaccines that provide broad protection against coronavirus disease, “Dr Kayvon Modjarrad, the director of the emerging infectious diseases branch of WRAIR, said in a press release from the military. “Our strategy has been to develop a ‘pan-coronavirus’ vaccine technology that could potentially offer safe, effective and long-lasting protection against several strains and species of coronavirus.”

Defense 1 reported that scientists at Walter Reed expect to announce, “in a few weeks”, that they have developed an effective vaccine against COVID-19 and all of its variants.

The military has only completed phase 1 of the human trials. Defense 1 noted that he had “positive results which are under final review”. The vaccine has been in development for almost two years, according to Defense 1. It won’t be available to the general public at all times and might not even work. Additionally, the military has not asked the FDA to approve the vaccine.

Last week, the military noted that 468,459 active soldiers, a rate of 96%, had been vaccinated against the coronavirus since the military implemented a warrant. In addition, the military has begun to prohibit soldiers who refuse to be vaccinated from re-enlisting, promoting and other “favorable staff actions”, with the ability to discharge those who continue to refuse vaccination, by CNN.

Stephen Silver, technology writer for the National interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage Magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice today. Co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters