The Department of Defense’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is expected to announce that it has developed a COVID-19 vaccine that can combat all strains of the virus, including the Delta and the rapidly spreading Omicron variants.

The announcement is expected in the coming weeks and is the result of almost two years of research by the Army lab that began DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020, Defense One reported Tuesday.

According to the news outlet, the research team at Walter Reed had determined early on that it would develop a COVID vaccine that would fight against not only the current strain of the coronavirus, but any potential variants that would crop up in the future.

The director of Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, told Defense One, “We decided to take a look at the long game rather than just only focusing on the original emergence of SARS, and instead understand that viruses mutate, there will be variants that emerge, future viruses that may emerge, in terms of new species.”

The vaccine, which is known as the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine or SpFN, uses what researchers call a ferritin platform, which is designed to provide more flexibility to target multiple COVID variants of the virus.

The SpFN vaccine underwent animal trials in early 2021, with Phase 1 human trials ending in December, showing positive results that are under review, Defense One reported.

Modjarrad told Defense One human trials took longer than expected as participants need to be unvaccinated and never infected with COVID, which was a difficult feat based on the infectiousness of the Delta and Omicron variants.

“With Omicron, there's no way really to escape this virus. You're not going to be able to avoid it. So, I think pretty soon either the whole world will be vaccinated or have been infected,” Modjarrad said.

For the next phases of studies, researchers will test the vaccine with people who have been vaccinated or were infected with the virus.

“We need to evaluate it in the real-world setting and try to understand how does the vaccine perform in much larger numbers of individuals who have already been vaccinated with something else initially…or already been sick,” Modjarrad told Defense One.

It is unclear who will produce the vaccine on behalf of the Defense Department as an industry partner has not been named yet.

The government has mandated that all military service members be fully vaccinated and has begun discharging members who are not fully inoculated and have not sought exemptions.

US Forces Korea (USFK) administered initial doses of the Moderna vaccine for military and civilian healthcare workers
Thousands of US Air Force employees have yet to be fully vaccinated, but the first deadline is nearing, and defense firms are concerned about potential worker loss. US FORCES KOREA / Handout