Good news! Biotech company Moderna Inc. and government scientists at the National Institutes of Health report promising early results for coronavirus vaccine testing, currently in Phase 2 trials. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine announced successful immune responses in all people who received the vaccine in March.
During Phase 1 human testing, researchers administered the vaccine to 45 healthy adults, ages 18-55. Volunteers were separated into three groups that each received two shots, of varying doses, 28 days apart. After the second dose, all participants developed “neutralizing antibodies.” Participant antibody levels were reportedly similar to antibody levels of recovered COVID-19 patients. Tests also presented an encouraging T-cell response in the immune system.
Phase 1 volunteers will continue to be evaluated for one year to see how long their COVID-19 immune responses last.
About the Moderna Vaccine
Unlike most vaccines, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine does not use a weakened version of the virus. Instead, the vaccine utilizes mRNA, genetic material from the coronavirus, to trigger an immune system response.
The vaccine contains messenger RNA, a genetic code that instructs the cell to produce the coronavirus’ spike protein – that allows the virus to enter and infect human cells. When the vaccine is administered into the human body, the human cells will also create those spike proteins, in turn triggering an immune response.
If everything goes well, that immune response will create antibodies to safeguard people from COVID-19.
On July 27th, the vaccine testing will enter Phase 3, with 30,000 participants. The expanded testing will provide more conclusive data on vaccine effectiveness.
Currently, there are 87 trial locations identified in the United States, many of which are in areas with recent COVID-19 surges, such as Florida and Texas. Phase 3 test results will determine whether the vaccine becomes publically available.
Assuming successful Phase 3 testing, Moderna expects to be able to distribute 500 million doses, and up to 1 billion doses, per year beginning in 2021. However, Moderna is only one of at least 21 possible vaccines beginning to enter clinical trials. Experts stress the need for multiple vaccines as one organization cannot deliver the billions of vaccines needed around the world.
What Does This Mean for Me?
While scientists continue to make good progress in developing and testing potential vaccines, it’s important to note that there is still no FDA approved vaccination against the COVID-19. Therefore, it’s crucial that people continue to practice coronavirus safety measures, like mask wearing, social distancing and proper hygiene.
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