Will the Vaccine Protect Against Other Coronavirus Diseases?

Elemental published an extremely thorough guide to the Covid-19 vaccine, answering every possible question. The FAQ will be updated and added to as the vaccine process continues. The Blog will be featuring a few questions throughout the month.

Will the vaccine protect against other coronavirus diseases?

Sometimes a vaccine for one pathogen offers limited protection against a very similar pathogen, a phenomenon called cross-strain protections. This is most often seen with flu vaccines when several circulating flu viruses share very similar genetic code. But the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t resemble any of the coronaviruses that cause colds.

“We do not expect any cross-protection against other coronavirus infections since the vaccines trigger an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” said [Edward Belongia, MD, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Population Health at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Marshfield, Wisconsin]. “The immune system sees this as distinct from other human coronaviruses with little or no cross-reactivity. Seasonal coronaviruses cause mild upper respiratory illness, and the focus of vaccine development has been to prevent serious illness due to Covid-19.”

But we can’t completely rule out cross-strain protection against a new coronavirus that comes along later or even SARS-CoV (which causes SARS) if it returns, said Maria Elena Bottazzi, PhD, associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

“There is evidence, for instance, that because of the genetic similarity between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, antibodies generated from SARS vaccines or SARS-2 vaccines can cross neutralize both viruses,” Bottazzi said. “This provides initial evidence for the development of multivalent vaccines or possibly universal coronavirus vaccines. This will be the new research moving forward.”

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