Coronavirus updates

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate shows ‘potential’ in the first phase of human trials

The company said a test in eight healthy volunteers found its experimental vaccine was safe and provoked a healthy immune response. It is on accelerated timetable to begin more extensive human trials Soon.

Highlights

  • Experimental vaccine show to produce virus-neutralizing antibodies: Moderna
  • Results are from a small, early-stage of the human trial conducted in the united states
  • Moderna, the Massachusetts biotechnology, is expecting to start a more extensive, late-stage trials in July.

Early-stage human trials for coronavirus vaccine have shown encouraging signs, with the experimental shots inducing an immune response in healthy volunteers. Moderna, the Massachusetts biotechnology, announced on Monday, offering a glint of hope to world desperation for ways to stop the pandemic.

The trial involved 45 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years over approximately six weeks.

The cordially-awaited data provide the first look at one of the eight vaccines worldwide that have begun human testing. The data have not been reported in a scientific journal and are only a preliminary step toward showing the experimental vaccine is safe and effective.

The interim results, the Massachusetts-based biotech company said in a statement, show that the virus-fighting antibodies the vaccine labeled mRNA-1273 generated were at similar levels to people who recovered from covid-19.

The company is expected to start the second phase of the trial soon and the final stage experiment in July.

According to a statement issued by the company Monday, participants were divided into three groups of 15 people each. All of them were found to have developed antibodies on day 15 after a single dose mRNA-1273, the vaccine candidate, the statement said.

Human participants, aged 18-55, received a 25, 100, or 250 micrograms, each with 15 people in each dose group, the company said.

The first group received two 25 micrograms of the vaccine initially. Two weeks directly after the second dose, levels of binding antibodies in the participants were at the levels seen in blood samples from people who have recovered from covid-19.

On Day 43, the second group that received two shots of dose level of 100 micrograms, has binding antibodies significantly higher than what was observed, in recovered covid-19 patients.

Results from the third group, which received one shot of 250 micrograms, are not yet available.

Neutralizing antibody data is available only for the first four participants in each of the 25 micrograms and 100 microgram dose-level groups at this time, and mRNA-1273 elicited neutralizing antibodies eight participants.

Moderna said the levels of neutralizing antibodies on Day 43 were at or above levels generally seen in recovered covid-19 patients.

Subject to finalization of the clinical trial protocol, the success of phase 3 trials will make the company eligible for a regulatory license for commercial use of its vaccine.

Moderna was the first company to announce and carry out human trials for this RNA-based drug earlier in march, saying it would be able to produce “a limited vaccine by fall of 2020”.

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