UW Medicine reports development of innovative COVID-19 vaccine candidate

SEATTLE — Researchers at the University of Washington Medicine reported that they have developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that is 10 times more effective than others.

With hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines out there, scientists at UW said there are several factors that make the vaccine different, which include its potency, stability and manufacturability. And experts believe it could be a game changer.

“The technology that we’re using has an established track record. This one looks like it’s ultra potent!” said Dr. Neil King with UW Medicine.

Scientists said the vaccine seems far more promising than others. “We do think this is a highly differentiated vaccine candidate,” King said.

King helped design the protein nanoparticle vaccine on a computer. It might have been slower to develop, but experts said they could not compromise safety.

“There’s a very long track record of safe and effective protein nanoparticle vaccines. Whereas for mRNA vaccines, nobody has ever made one before,” said King.

King said what is most exciting about the vaccine candidate is that it carries 10 times more neutralizing antibodies than any other vaccine, and it is far more potent, so patients will not have to take big doses. The vaccine also does not require cold storage like others, making it easier to produce and ship around the world.

“It is exciting information for sure, but we gotta test it in humans and really know how it performs,” King said.

As clinical trials begin, researchers at UW Medicine said they are now focusing on challenges bigger than COVID-19 and trying to address a cure for all pandemics.

“This was the third time a coronavirus in the last 20 years has jumped from animals to humans and caused lots of problems. It’s going to happen again,” King said.

As for now, researchers are excited and hopeful to see how far the innovative vaccine goes.

“And if our vaccine can go out and prevent disease, right … when I lay my head down on my pillow at the end of the night, that’s what I want to accomplish,” said King.

The vaccine will go to two places to be mass-manufactured, and clinical trials will hopefully take place by the end of the year.