Early COVID-19 Vaccine Tests Show Some Potential

According to a story from Buzzfeed News, a recent test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna Therapeutics demonstrated that it was able to produce antibodies in all 45 people that received it. The analysis of the experiment was first posted in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers have been working tirelessly to develop a vaccine for the infection as soon as possible.

A Sign of Progress

The results from this trial could be a significant step in the direction of the creation of an effective vaccine. As the virus has claimed the lives of 138,000 people in the US at the time of writing and close to 600,000 worldwide, the need for effective countermeasures like a vaccine is incredibly urgent. The vaccine is being designated mRNA-1273. A total of 155 COVID-19 vaccines are in the midst of development and 23 of them a currently being trialed on humans. Moderna, along with five other companies, has received hundreds of millions in funding to spur the rapid development of a vaccine.

In this phase 1 test, the participants were given two doses of the vaccine. While mRNA-1273 successfully triggered the development of COVID-19 antibodies, some of the participants did experience mild symptoms associated with the disease, such as chills, fever, headache, and muscular pain. However, the study still concluded that the vaccine was safe. Moderna plans to move forward with a phase 3 trial that is slated to being on July 27th. This much larger scale study will evaluate the vaccine in 30,000 people. Another phase 3 trial sponsored by Pfizer is expected to move forward at around that time as well.

But Challenges Remain

While a vaccine is likely to play a significant role in curbing on the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, developing an effective one may not be as simple as it seems on the surface. A big concern is developing a vaccine that is effective for a meaningful time span—“at least one full seasonal cycle,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

There have been multiple reported cases of reinfection, in which a patient that had the virus initially had recovered, only to show symptoms again months later. This suggests that COVID-19 is mutating rapidly and that the antibodies that a patient’s immune system produce to combat the virus aren’t effective for more than a few months or weeks.

If Moderna’s vaccine appears to be effective and have staying power, then it is likely to become available to the public early next year.

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