San Diego scientists work on a vaccine against all coronaviruses


SARS. MERS. COVID-19. Coronaviruses caused all three diseases, and scientists are betting other members of this viral family will cause new outbreaks.

But what if a single vaccine worked against all coronaviruses — past, present and future?

Researchers from San Diego to Boston are racing to turn that possibility into a reality, and they just got some major help. La Jolla Institute for Immunology announced Thursday that Erica Ollmann Saphire, president of the organization, won a three-year, $2.6-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a so-called pan-coronavirus vaccine.

“It’s a class of viruses that we know can cause global pandemics. And it’s something that we need to be prepared for,” Saphire said. “We’re trying to ward off the next pandemic.”

She’s part of a larger effort led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and joined by researchers at MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University. Scientists in Boston are studying people who’ve been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, searching for immune responses with the potential to fight off a broad swath of coronaviruses.