The Long Shot
Mother Jones|January/February 2022
"What if we could make a vaccine for pandemic viruses—before they exist?"
By Jackie Flynn Mogensen. Illustrated by Lisk Feng

In Early 2020, just as the covid-19 pandemic was starting to unfold, infectious disease researchers Matt Memoli and Luca Giurgea were already thinking about how the crisis might end. The two, both at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, recalled what happened following a coronavirus epidemic 17 years earlier, and they were concerned about a repeat.

They remembered that, as sars (caused by a kind of coronavirus) jumped to humans, possibly from bats, and began spreading across the globe in late 2002— eventually infecting more than 8,000 people and killing 774—researchers started working on some of the first commercial human coronavirus vaccines. But within months, health authorities contained the outbreak. And as the threat of sars subsided, so did their funding. Projects were put on hold or abandoned.

Too bad, because they really could have come in handy.

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