A new study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and the University of Oxford has shown that unrelated vaccines could help reduce the burden of the pandemic, according to Medical Xpress.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds new evidence suggesting that the generalized immune-boosting effects of many vaccines can cross-protect patients from multiple viruses.

Before the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, many health experts and immunologists suggested that vaccinating vulnerable populations with other vaccines could offer some degree of protection.

Lead author Dr. Nathaniel Hupert said, “We know that unrelated vaccines have these heterologous effects, and a reasonable person could tell you that if you used them during a pandemic, it would benefit.”

However, it was unclear whether such strategies would help and which populations would be best to target. It was also unclear how much of the population should receive unrelated vaccines to have an impactful effect.

Dr. Hupert and senior author Dr. Douglas Nixon, and their colleagues used the COVID-19 International Modeling Consortium (CoMo) system. CoMo is a sophisticated computer-modeling platform, which they built in response to the pandemic.

“If you have a model that can be customized to a particular place and time in the context of an outbreak,” explained Dr. Hupert, “you can start to experiment with different conditions of population immunity and see how things might have played out.”

The team studied the likely effects of a non-COVID-19 vaccine intervention. They did not specify the vaccines but they chose values for cross-protection consistent from earlier studies on influenza, measles, tuberculosis, and others.

The investigators found that an unrelated vaccine, which provided just 5% protection against serious COVID-19, would have caused a substantial reduction in caseloads and hospital usage, per Medical Xpress.

Dr. Hupert said, “Surprisingly, we found a couple of really interesting emergent results from what we put in the mix.”

“This modeling study shows the potential power of all vaccines in keeping the immunological system primed and healthy and reinforces the need for everyone to keep their vaccination history up to date, particularly during a pandemic,” explained Dr. Nixon.

Omicron, which is sweeping the whole world, is escaping the protection provided by COVID vaccines. Dr. Hupert noted. “Each and every additional protective measure that we can muster across populations at risk – even small ones like those we modeled – will lead to fewer infections, which means fewer new variants, which may mean a quicker end to the pandemic.”