Researchers hope to develop a universal vaccine against coronaviruses. The vaccine would work against as many coronavirus strains as possible. To develop these universal vaccine scientists, we must collect information about these strains in great detail and then compare them with each other to find their similarities.
This includes comparing their genome and protein sequences. Since these strains share a common evolution throughout history they will have evolved similar features that can be a target for a vaccine.
For example, the spike protein that is present on the surface of one coronavirus may share a tiny fragment with all the other strains of coronaviruses. Meaning the spike proteins in all coronaviruses may have something in common. This tiny fragment could be isolated and used as a universal vaccine.
One we introduce the universal vaccine to our immune system. We would develop immunity against all strains that share the same fragment which could potentially future outbreaks of other coronaviruses. If such a universal vaccine is proven to be effective and safe, it can be chemically synthesized in the lab and mass-produced.
Inside the host cell, the virus uses its genome to make copies of itself. During its replication process, proteins must assemble to make a new virus. One of these proteins could be common among all coronaviruses and it could be part of the outer shell that covers the genome of the virus.
By studying the outer shell of all coronaviruses in great depth, we could uncover several proteins that can be used as a universal vaccine. Up until now, coronaviruses have not been of much great interest. They are poorly studied and our knowledge about them is very limited.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic comes at a time of technological revolution where we could sequence the genome of any virus at great speeds and rapidly collect enough data about their surface proteins.
COVID-19 pandemic allowed scientists to discover several strains of coronaviruses. By gathering more knowledge about all of these strains during this pandemic a universal vaccine against all coronaviruses will eventually be developed.