Featured News First COVID-19 experimental vaccine trial underway in the US

First COVID-19 experimental vaccine trial underway in the US

The study will involve 45 healthy adult volunteers from the ages of 18 to 55 and will last for approximately six weeks, with participants receiving two injections about one month apart in varying doses

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On Monday (Mar 16), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the United States announced that the first novel coronavirus vaccine trial in the United States officially gave its first dose to a participant in the study.

With the world in the grips of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and more than 190,000 people affected and more than 7,500 fatalities globally, developing a vaccine for the virus is crucial.

Thus far, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus, a problem that scientists and experts all over the world have been working toward answering.

The vaccine trial, which is backed financially by NIAID and operated out of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, US, gave its first dose of the vaccine to one of the study’s participants.

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The study will involve 45 healthy adult volunteers from the ages of 18 to 55 and will last for approximately six weeks, with participants receiving two injections about one month apart in varying doses.

NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement on Monday that finding a vaccine is an “urgent public health priority”.

“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with [the novel coronavirus] is an urgent public health priority,” NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “This Phase I study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”

The aim of the Phase I trial is to determine that the vaccine is safe and effects a desired response from the immune systems of participants.
The next step, which is to prove that the vaccine is indeed effective in preventing COVID-19 infection, is trickier and could take a much longer time. Experts say that follow-up studies involving many more participants are expected to last for many months.
The investigational vaccine, which utilises genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA), was developed by NIAID scientists working with biotech company Moderna.
The mRNA-1273 vaccine directs the body’s cells to express a virus protein which scientists hope will elicit a healthy immune response. While it has shown encouraging results in animal models, this is its first human trial.
Dr. Fauci noted that the speed which which the trial was launched can be credited to earlier studies on other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS.
According to NIAID’s statement, a previous experimental MERS vaccine which targeted a protein on the virus’ surface gave the agency a “head start for developing a vaccine candidate” for COVID-19.
The vaccine trials will take time, and in the meantime, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH), and other governing health bodies across the world are advocating thorough hand-washing and social distancing as the best means of prevention amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Singapore currently has 152 confirmed cases of the virus, according to MOH.
/TISG
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