The Army is testing its newly developed COVID-19 vaccine that may protect against a variety of coronavirus variants, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Army doctors were to start testing the shot Tuesday in as many as 72 adults ages 18 to 55 at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., according to the news outlet. Initial results of the study could become available by midsummer.
If the data are positive, the Army probably would try to join with a drug company to further test and develop the vaccine, Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the institute’s infectious-disease branch, told the Journal.
Next-generation vaccines could play a role if they’re different from the current crop, according to the news outlet. Vaccines that trigger a different kind of immune response, or which have a different route of administration — like a nasal spray or liquid to be swallowed — may prove useful as primary vaccinations outside the United States or as a booster vaccine.
Army researchers say their vaccine was protective in studies of monkeys exposed to the coronavirus. Lab tests suggest it could be protective against newer, more transmissible variants, including those first identified in the U.K. and South Africa, Modjarrad told the Journal.
“This vaccine may be a good vaccine in terms of covering all different types of strains,” he said.
If successful in testing, the vaccine also could be used as a booster shot in people who’ve already gotten one of the now-authorized vaccines, to shore up immunity against variants, he told the Journal.
The currently authorized vaccines from Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson appear to retain some effectiveness against the newer virus variants.
Some volunteers in the study will receive one dose of the Army vaccine, and others will get two doses given four weeks apart. Researchers will assess immune responses from blood samples taken about two weeks after the second dose or six weeks after the single dose.
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