WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks to reporters during a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House on July 25, 2022 in Washington, DC.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha

The White House is getting behind two major strategies to create new COVID-19 vaccines.

On Tuesday, July 26, federal officials, top scientists and pharmaceutical company executives are scheduled to discuss whether and how to best support the new ventures, the medical news outlet Stat reported Monday. One would involve the development of intranasal vaccines that could help foster antibody growth in the nose and other places where viruses enter the body. The other would support vaccines that work against a variety of coronavirus variants to provide long-lasting immunity, according to Stat. 

This work has been encouraged for a long time but so far has not garnered enough financial support. Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, told Stat that these technologies may be three to five years from widespread use and could cost billions to make. 

Billions for new vaccines

The Trump administration spent $12.4 billion on Operation Warp Speed, its unprecedented push to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, the news outlet noted. But Congress has still not agreed to provide more funding for the Biden administration’s pandemic response, and the administration has not yet convinced the majority of Americans to receive third or fourth vaccine doses.

In the meantime, one strategy seems to have lost support. The development of vaccines to fight single variants is not a sustainable solution for keeping the SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission under control. The strains change too quickly, outpacing drug development, experts have said.

But the longer-lasting pan-coronavirus vaccine now under consideration could theoretically drive down infections by 90% — enough so that the disease “becomes just one more respiratory illness that we have to deal with,” Jha said.

Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale researcher who is attempting to commercialize a nasal vaccine booster, said such next-generation vaccines are crucial to preventing infection and transmission. 

“[T]hat’s probably the only way to contain the spread of the virus,” she said.

The full story can be found on Stat’s website.

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