Washington: US health officials said on Monday that the first human trial to evaluate a new candidate for a coronavirus vaccine has started in Seattle, raising hopes for a worldwide fight against the disease.
However, once it has gone through more experimental stages to prove it works and is safe, it could take another year to 18 months to launch.
The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, was developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and employees of Moderna, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“The open-label trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years over approximately 6 weeks,” the NIH said. “The first participant received the investigational vaccine today.”
The Oslo-based Alliance for Epidemic Prevention and Innovation (CEPI) also provided funding.
Since the virus was first discovered in central China in late December, there is currently no approved vaccine or treatment for coronavirus disease called COVID-19, which has infected more than 175,000 people worldwide.
According to AFP, it killed 7,000 people, most of them in China, followed by Italy.
“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” said Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the NIH, using the technical name for the virus that is believed to have originated in bats.
“This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”
The Seattle trial will study the effects of different doses of intramuscular injection in the upper arm and monitor participants for side effects such as pain or fever.
Coronaviruses are spherical and have spines that protrude from the surface, giving them a coronal appearance. Spikes bind to human cells and allow the virus to enter.
The Moderna candidate vaccine carries the genetic information of this spike in a substance called “messenger RNA.”
Spike messenger RNA is injected into human tissues, allowing it to grow in the body, triggering an immune response without actually infecting the adult virus.
Pharmaceutical and research laboratories around the world are racing to develop treatments and vaccines against the new coronavirus.
Remdesivir, an antiviral drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences in the United States, has entered the final stages of clinical trials in Asia and doctors in China have reported that it can effectively fight the disease.
But only randomized trials can allow scientists to determine if it really helps, or if patients can recover without it.
Another American drug manufacturer called Inovio is developing a DNA-based vaccine, and the company says it will begin clinical studies next month.
Regeneron is trying to isolate antibodies that fight the coronavirus, which can be given intravenously to give temporary immunity, and hopes to conduct human trials before the summer.
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild, 14% severe, and 5% severe, leading to serious respiratory illnesses that fill the lungs with fluid and prevent oxygen from entering the organs. .
Mild patients will recover in one to two weeks and severe patients can last six weeks or more.
Recent estimates indicate that about 1% of all infected people die.