17 March 2020
New Delhi: The first human volunteer received a dose of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 in the US on Monday, in a key step in the fight against the new coronavirus responsible for the on-going pandemic.
Four patients received the jab at the Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle, Washington, reports the Associated Press news agency. The volunteers were being given different doses of the experimental vaccine.
They will each be given two jabs in total, 28 days apart, into the upper arm muscle. But even if these initial safety tests go well, it could still take up to 18 months for any potential vaccine to become available for the public.
The vaccine called mRNA-1273, cannot cause Covid-19 but contains a harmless genetic code copied from the virus that causes the disease. Experts say it will still take many months to know if this vaccine, or others also in research, will work.
And this first human trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health sidesteps a check that would normally be conducted - making sure the vaccine can trigger an immune response in animals.
But the biotechnology company behind the work, Moderna Therapeutics, says the vaccine has been made using a tried and tested process.
Over the next six weeks, researchers plan to enrol 45 participants in the trial, which will test the safety of the vaccine as well as its ability to induce an immune response in the volunteers. The trial will take place at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) allowed the new vaccine to be fast-tracked into clinical trials without thorough testing in animal models, which usually stands as a strict prerequisite to human testing. While making the jump to human trials could bring the vaccine to market faster, this is only step one.