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Basically, there are three primary approaches to safely introducing antigens to the immune system: you can inactivate (or kill) a virus through methods such as heat treatment; you can attenuate it (make it less well-adapted to humans) by introducing it into foreign hosts until its adaptive mutations make it safe for humans; or you can synthesize molecular antigenic subunits and introduce those on a viral carrier or with chemicals to stimulate an immune response. Experience with inactivated SARS vaccines suggests that protection is incomplete and, worse yet, the vaccines trigger immunopathic responses that can cause serious damage. Most focus is on subunit vaccines, but s-protein-based vaccines in feline coronavirus have been shown to actually worsen the effects of reinfection, so researchers are understandably cautious.

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