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First coronavirus vaccine trial in the US is recruiting volunteers

gloved hands preparing vaccine
(Image: © Shutterstock)

Researchers in Seattle have begun recruiting healthy volunteers to participate in a clinical trial for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, according to news reports.

The vaccine, developed by the biotechnology company Moderna Therapeutics, was initially sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Maryland on Feb. 24, according to The Wall Street Journal. The agency anticipates launching a clinical trial by the end of April and will sponsor the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute to conduct the testing, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told The Wall Street Journal.  

Forty-five healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 will be enrolled in the initial trial, which aims to determine whether the vaccine triggers an immune response, and whether the given dose causes adverse side effects, according to a description on ClinicalTrials.gov

The vaccine does not contain the virus that triggers COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, and cannot cause infection, according to a report by Kaiser Permanente. Unlike vaccines developed for other viruses, such as measles, this new vaccine does not utilize a weak or dead virus as its base. Instead, the vaccine contains a short segment of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, generated in a laboratory. In a typical cell, mRNA encodes instructions for building different proteins. 

Related: 10 deadly diseases that hopped across species

The artificial mRNA prompts cells to build a protein found on the surface of the virus, according to the Kaiser Permanente report. A person's immune system should react to this new protein by building up an arsenal of antibodies that target and latch onto this protein, tagging the virus for elimination. Then, the mRNA should break down and be eliminated by the body, leaving the vaccinated person better prepared to fight off SARS-CoV-2, should they ever encounter it.

Designing the vaccine to work in this way allowed Moderna to fast-track the development process, as the company did not need to isolate and modify live samples of SARS-CoV-2 as it would for a more conventional vaccine, according to Kaiser Permanente. 

Volunteers will receive two injections of the vaccine in the upper arm, with a 28-day gap between doses. The 45 participants will be split into three groups, with each group receiving a different dose of the vaccine. Volunteers will be asked to attend 11 in-person study visits over the course of the 14-month study and will receive $100 for each appointment they attend, totaling up to $1,100 by the end. 

Following this initial safety trial, the vaccine's effectiveness must be tested in several subsequent trials in larger groups of people before being distributed widely. Meanwhile, researchers around the world will continue to work on viable treatments to help people who contract the virus. For now, patients with COVID-19 will receive supportive care to address symptoms of the disease, Live Science previously reported

Although this advance in vaccine development is encouraging, earlier this week, U.S. health officials noted that they can't guarantee that a COVID-19 vaccine will be affordable. 

"We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday (March 4), according to Market Watch. "The priority is to get vaccines and therapeutics, and price controls won't get us there."

However, Moderna Therapeutics CEO Stéphane Bancel has stated that the company's vaccine should be affordable. 

"We are highly aware this is a public-health issue, and so we will be very thoughtful about setting a price if this product gets to approval," Bancel told Business Insider. "There is no world, I think, where we would contemplate to price this higher than other respiratory virus vaccines."    

Originally published on Live Science. 

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  • Nehmo
    Let's hope they solve this problem before this thing gets to my neck of the woods!
    Reply
  • Non-Lurker
    According to the latest news, we should probably plan for a time frame a lot longer than what the President suggested in his speech recently. It is projected that it will be 14 months (starting in April) for this first study of 45 people to be completed. This is a very small, initial study. Following the results of that study, there will need to be larger, multiple, additional studies of more people's reactions and the effectiveness of the proposed vaccine. The possibility of it taking close to two years to develop, test and to modify dosages before a safe and effective vaccine is available for COVID-19, may even be a bit optimistic. To look at the bright side, throughout history, many vaccines for much deadlier diseases took decades of trial and error, before a safe and effective vaccine was even available. With scientists' efforts to develop the vaccine for COVID-19 now going world-wide, and also in this age of super-computers, all of those time frames have been greatly shortened.
    Reply
  • Coach Carter
    They can certainly administer high-dose ascorbic acid intravenously to those infected. 25,000mg twice a day consistently will significantly reduce the viral load effectively.
    Reply
  • bfrsplk
    Coach Carter said:
    They can certainly administer high-dose ascorbic acid intravenously to those infected. 25,000mg twice a day consistently will significantly reduce the viral load effectively.
    Where on earth did you get this idea? Can you name ONE widely recognized objective clinical study where this has been proven?
    Reply
  • Irwanto
    Non-Lurker said:
    According to the latest news, we should probably plan for a time frame a lot longer than what the President suggested in his speech recently. It is projected that it will be 14 months (starting in April) for this first study of 45 people to be completed. This is a very small, initial study. Following the results of that study, there will need to be larger, multiple, additional studies of more people's reactions and the effectiveness of the proposed vaccine. The possibility of it taking close to two years to develop, test and to modify dosages before a safe and effective vaccine is available for COVID-19, may even be a bit optimistic. To look at the bright side, throughout history, many vaccines for much deadlier diseases took decades of trial and error, before a safe and effective vaccine was even available. With scientists' efforts to develop the vaccine for COVID-19 now going world-wide, and also in this age of super-computers, all of those time frames have been greatly shortened.
    Reply
  • Irwanto
    Dear All,

    I like this article , which talking about covid-19 volunteer , I am ready honestly. I am enjoy for viruses buster...........but not ghost buster. I am waiting your comments......
    Reply
  • LisaSummit2
    admin said:
    Forty-five people will be enrolled in the preliminary safety trial of the new vaccine.

    First coronavirus vaccine trial in the US is recruiting volunteers : Read more
    GOD BLESS THEM! I would never try a new vaccine that was brewed up in what 5 weeks???? No way
    Reply
  • LisaSummit2
    admin said:
    Forty-five people will be enrolled in the preliminary safety trial of the new vaccine.

    First coronavirus vaccine trial in the US is recruiting volunteers : Read more
    PLEASE don't let me believe they'd secretly do this to some children as well. I DO THINK they need to take blood from kids and test things-Like ph levels and I'm not a scientist but kids being nearly immune just doesn't make sense. That's why to me this has bioweapon written all over it. Could it be because children's vaccines are still so fresh in their systems whereas older peoples childhood vaccines are nearly depleted??? THIS IS THE PROBLEM SOLVER. Figure out why they barely get ill and healthy 50 year olds are dropping like flies? And who said they saw a ton of lined up dead kids? I haven't heard a thing about that. And how do we know if they died of virus or their crazy leaders for whatever reason--like maybe they're orphans because parents died??? This whole thing is just so unbelievable on so many levels..
    Reply
  • Coach Carter
    bfrsplk said:
    Where on earth did you get this idea? Can you name ONE widely recognized objective clinical study where this has been proven?
    https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04264533
    https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/three-intravenous-vitamin-c-research-studies-approved-treating-covid-19/
    Reply
  • Lyro92
    So Europe will give roughly 4k to people who will help by getting injected to create a vaccine, but the US will only pay 1k. I haven't been sick since for over 10 years with anything, I know I have a high immune system, if they wanted to pay me enough to risk my life with a deadly virus I'd make antibodies for a vaccine, but not for 1k.
    Reply